Vancouver Sun: Does this happy marriage make me look fat?

Meltzer-Vancouver-Sun-satisfied-couples-weight-gain

Postmedia News reporter Misty Harris writes in The Vancouver Sun about the research of SMU psychologist Andrea L. Meltzer, who found that young couples who are satisfied with their marriage are more likely to gain weight, putting them at risk for various health problems associated with being overweight.

The article, “Does this happy marriage make me look fat?,” was published April 5.

Meltzer, lead researcher on the study, is an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Psychology.

The study’s researchers said the findings challenge the long-held notion that quality relationships are always beneficial to one’s health. Instead, they said, the findings suggest that spouses who are satisfied in the marriage are less motivated to attract an alternative mate. As a result, satisfied spouses relax efforts to maintain their weight.

The article, “Marital satisfaction predicts weight gain in early marriage,” is published online in the scientific journal Health Psychology at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23477578.

The study was based on data from 169 first-married newlywed couples whose marital satisfaction and weight were tracked over the course of four years.

Read the Vancouver Sun article.

EXCERPT:

Misty Harris
Vancouver Sun

Marital bliss may bulk up your well-being but it also tips the scales when it comes to weight, according to a new four-year study.

Reporting in the journal Health Psychology, researchers find that relationship satisfaction is linked with an increase in body mass index over time. By contrast, when couples are less satisfied in their marriage, or even contemplating separation, they’re significantly less likely to incur the weight penalty of their happier counterparts.

“It’s pretty well-established that marriage is associated with weight gain, and divorce is associated with weight loss,” said Andrea Meltzer, assistant professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Texas. “But the extent to which satisfaction plays a role hasn’t been examined until now.”

The outcome of the study was uncertain from the start.

Prior research has found that satisfying relationships are actually helpful in promoting good health practices. But Meltzer notes that those studies focused more on behaviours – such as taking medication on time or getting an annual physical – than weight.

Literature on mating, meanwhile, has shown that weight-maintenance is motivated primarily by a desire to attract a partner. From this perspective, it makes sense that keeping svelte could be a function of dissatisfaction, and a desire to get back on the market.

Read the Vancouver Sun article.

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