Science

A Stressed Spouse Means You Have To Watch Your Waistline

By Christie Abagon , Nov 15, 2016 02:13 AM EST
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If your wife or husband is stressed out, you may want to hit the scale because it is likely that you have gained weight.  A recent study shows the link in spousal stress and marriage quality with a person's health, and that a stressed partner could mean fattening up, which could eventually lead to diabetes.

Your Partner's Stress Levels Affects Your Weight Too

Kira Birditt, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found out that marriage also seemed to play a role in whether husbands and wives fattened up over a four-year study.  "We found that your partner's stress, and not your own, predicted an increased waist circumference over time," she said. 

For this research, Birditt's team used data from the university's Health and Retirement Study. More than 2,000 married men and women answered questions about their waist size, marriage quality and stress levels in 2006 and again in 2010. They were in their early 60s, on average, and had been married an average of 34 years.  At the onset of the study, 6 out of 10 participants had waists in the unhealthy size range.  However, after 4 years, 90% had a 10% increase in waist size. 

Stress And Negative Marriage Quality Affects Both The Husband And Wife Significantly

Based on the result of the study, Birditt said that wives are "1.6 times more likely to have an increase in waist circumference when their husbands reported greater stress and greater negative marriage quality."  But husbands are more than twice as likely to have a 10 percent increase in waist size when their wives had greater stress but weren't complaining about marriage quality.  The researchers say they could not explain the difference. 

Birditt said that as for the marriage quality's effect: "Research shows that people who are more distressed in their marriage do eat more as a way to feel connected to each other to reduce their feeling of stress."  The researchers agreed that couples can take steps to minimize weight gain. 

"Couples who create goals together tend to be more successful than those who create them separately.  Let's go out and walk together after dinner every night' is better than one partner saying, 'I'm going to go exercise,'" she said.

 

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