Married Men -- Not Women -- Are Fatter Than Their Singleton Counterparts

It’s an old wives tale that women “let themselves go” after marriage, a new study suggests. It’s actually married men who are larger than their single counterparts.

Many studies point to the health and psychological benefits of marriage, but the new study published in the journal Families, Systems, & Health on Jan. 13 suggests that marriage may not be as great as it seems health-wise — at least not for men.

The scientists used data from Project EAT that monitored the diet, physical activity, and weight status of about 2,300 young adults in the Midwest. About 35% of the total sample were single or casually dating, 42% were in a committed relationship, and 23% were married.

The results suggest that married men were 25% more likely to be overweight or obese than single men or men in committed relationship. The scientists defined overweight as people having a body mass index over 25.

In the image below the first column of numbers shows the per cent of men who are overweight and the last column shows the per cent of women who are overweight. You can see that the married men column have the highest rate of obesity at 58.5%.

One of the most surprising results from the study is that married women were much more likely to regularly eat breakfast. They were 47% more likely to eat breakfast at least five times per week than single women or women in a committed relationship.

In the image below the first column of numbers shows the per cent of men who eat breakfast and the last column of numbers shows the per cent of women who eat breakfast at least five times per week. More than 60% of married eat breakfast regularly.

There are tons of health benefits that come from eating breakfast, so the results of the study suggest that some married women may have a healthy edge.

This does not mean that being married will suddenly make you fat if you’re a man, or make you crave breakfast if you’re a woman. There are many other factors at play beyond the scope of the study, including who is likely to get married in the first place, the duration of relationships, and the tendency for people to select a partner based on shared habits.

The scientists found that relationship status made little difference in other health behaviours like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, eating less fast food, and exercising. Next they hope to examine how the quality of the relationship affects the health behaviours of the couple.

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