Keep a close eye on those bathroom scales if you are going through the divorce process. Researchers in the United States have come up with evidence that husbands and wives in the process of divorcing are liable to put on extra kilos, particularly those who are aged over 30. .
The study of over 10,000 people, surveyed between 1996 and 2008 in order to determine whether or not weight gain was a consequence of marriage or a divorce, found that either of those changes could lead to men putting on extra flab, while women tended to so after marriage.
Dmitry Tumin and Dr Shenchao Qian, a professor of sociology at Ohio State University in America, carried out the project. Participants were monitored for two years after either of what the researchers described as ‘marital transitions’. Addressing the 106th meeting of the American Sociological Association, Dmitry Tumin said, ‘Clearly, the effect of marital transitions on weight changes differs by gender. Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk.’
Emphasising that the probability of putting on a large amount of weight increased most for people over 30, he told the conference that for someone in their mid-20s there is not much of a difference between a person who just got married and someone who never married. But later in life there is much more of a difference.
"Married women often have a larger role around the house than men do, and they may have less time to exercise and stay fit than similar unmarried women," Dr Qian explained. "On the other hand, studies show that married men get a health benefit from marriage, and they lose that benefit once they get divorced, which may lead to their weight gain. From age 22 to 30, the effect on weight is not very clear," he added. "But both marriages and divorce increase the risk of weight changes from about age 30 to 50, and the effect is stronger at later ages.’
Previous studies have suggested that divorce leads to weight loss, but they have not taken into account circumstances like pregnancy for women, poverty, socioeconomic status or education – all of which were factored in by Tumin and Qian.
Tumin commented that it is possible that people settle into certain patterns of physical activity and diet over time. "As you get older, having a sudden change in your life like a marriage or a divorce is a bigger shock than it would have been when you were younger, and that can really impact your weight." With all you have to go through, emotionally and financially, when you divorce, having to worry about getting too fat to fit into the clothes in your wardrobe is the last thing you need. Now you’ve been warned!