Study Suggests Losing Weight Is Contagious For Couples

The couple that diets together stays together. Or, according to scientists, has a much better chance of achieving their goal weight than if they’re doing it on their own.

Our eating habits and lifestyle choices affect those closest to us, as claimed by a new study. The research, published in Obesity journal, examined the so-called weight loss ripple effect and found that the rate at which couples lose weight is interlinked. And, not only that, but being in a close relationship with a person who took up exercise or started counting calories, might do you good- even if you don’t actively participate in their weight loss regime.

130 overweight couples were part of the study: all of them married and in their fifties. At the start of the program, only one person was introduced to a weight loss regime (usually the female), either through counseling, educational materials or by enrolling in the Weight Watchers, but their other half received no advice or motivation. The researchers revealed that, after six months, one third of the non-dieting partners lost over 3% of their body weight, and without doing anything different, fundamentally. The reason for this sudden weight loss was only that their significant other was changing their lifestyle.

UConn Professor, Amy Gorin, a behavioral psychologist that focuses on environmental and social factors influencing weight loss, was at the head of the research team. According to her, the results of the study might transform how national guided weight loss programs work: instead of focusing on helping individuals change their lifestyle, the program might now try to use the ripple effect to their benefit.

Future studies will look into how members of the same household affect each other when it comes to healthy lifestyle, and try to ascertain if the ripple effect is reserved for couples only, or if it spreads to all family members. In the end, any subsequent research can only confirm what we already know: seeing someone close to you change their habits for the better is the most powerful motivation you can get.

Photo credit: nenetus/Shutterstock

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