The study found that happily married couples are more likely to have better, healthier weight in their midlife years. While young couples may tend to be less concerned about their weight after settling down, middle-aged couples tend to put more premium on their health, and it is not necessarily related to their physical appearance.
"It is possible that middle-aged couples have stayed in the marital relationship for a longer time and may have developed effective strategies to cope with negative marital experiences," study co-author Ying Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Time.
Researchers surveyed 2,650 people who are married or in a long-term relationship with partner support and the quality of the relationship. The researchers also tracked the participants' weight gain by following up with them for almost nine years.
The study result showed that people who rated their marriage as "high quality" are less likely to gain weight over time compared to people who are in a less supportive union. For each step up the marriage quality scale and the support, scale, the individuals had a 10 percent and 22 percent lower risk for obesity respectively. That's three-quarters of a pound and one and a half pounds of weight loss for every step up a scale on both marriage quality and support categories.
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The outcome points to the same reason: Having a positive social supportive relationship. Reminding your significant other to eat healthily or take your vitamins or medications, encouraging each other to have good quality sleep, and being exercise buddies, among others, are just some ways that a positive social relationship becomes a health advantage to an individual.
Admittedly though, not all unions promote healthy habits, nor do they steer clear of unhealthy practices. However, looking at the larger picture, the researchers stress that the link between weight checks and marriage traces back to positive social support between spouses.
Chen and her colleagues did highlight an odd result: Marital strain did not seem to affect a person's weight gain significantly over the long term. So binge-eating after a fight is apparently, okay, and you're more likely to shed the pounds that you might have gained. (Couples in a stressful union may have ended their marriage earlier than their midlife years, which aren't part of the scope of the study.)
A good marriage or a great relationship with your partner can help you lead a healthier life — that's not rocket science. As you grow and mature together and as individuals, you both realize the more important things in life. Feeling good about oneself and being able to enjoy life are way more important things than your waistline. But that doesn't mean you and your partner can't have both.