Obesity Risk Doubles If Spouse is Affected by Obesity
When one spouse is obese, it doubles the likelihood that their partner will also become obese, according to a new study at Johns Hopkins University.
Researchers followed the weight gain habits of 4,000 couples for up to 25 years, starting between 1987 and 1989. After an initial exam, they had three follow-up visits about three years apart, followed by a final exam between 2011 and 2013.
Their findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that at the start of the study, 23 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women had an obesity diagnosis. Non-obese men whose wives first developed obesity throughout the visits were 78 percent more likely to develop obesity during that period than they would have had their wives not gained weight.
Non-obese wives with a husband who first developed obesity was linked to an 89 percent increased risk of developing obesity.
While not many people in the study lost enough weight to no longer be diagnosed with obesity, when they did lose weight, their spouse tended to lose weight as well.
The findings suggest that changes in one spouse are likely mirrored in the other spouse because of shared lifestyle habits. Shared life pressures such as having children, work stress, and financial difficulties are also possible contributors.
The study highlights the importance of gearing nutritional guidelines and weight management programs toward the whole family, and not just at individuals.