Does marriage lead to weight gain? That depends on how old you are when you marry, according to a new study from Ohio State University researchers. For those age 22 to 30, marriage didn’t strongly correspond to either weight gain or loss. But for those 30 and older, both men and women were likely to put on a few pounds in the two years post-marriage, compared to non-married peers, and women were more likely than men to put on significant weight. The probability of weight-gain increased the older the age of the individual.
The researchers looked at data on 10,071 individuals surveyed from 1986 to 2008 to measure weight changes in people in the two years following getting married or getting divorced. Men were more likely than women to gain significant weight after a divorce; this likelihood didn’t apply to those 22-30, and increased with age for those older. “For someone in their mid-20s, there is not much of a difference in the probability of gaining weight between someone who just got married and someone who never married. But later in life, there is much more of a difference,” said lead researcher Dmitri Turmin.
I hate the old wisdom that women stop maintaining their figures after marriage, as if the only reason women care about being in shape is to land a man, but I’m sure the results will be slanted this way by some even though the study is much more nuanced than that. Because it only followed couples for two years post-marriage or divorce, it’s not clear how these events affected weight-gain and loss for either gender long-term, only in periods of ‘marital transition.’ Also, lets be clear: The study isn’t saying that *most* women gained significant weight—only that women were more likely to gain significant weight in the two years after marrying than men. In the majority of just-married individuals—men or women—the weight gain was small (since we’re only talking 2-years after the wedding, maybe this just reflects people returning to their normal weight after shedding a few pounds for the big day).