If you lose weight on a diet, your spouse or partner is also likely to lose some weight, suggests a study in the journal Obesity.
To evaluate this “ripple effect,” researchers assigned 130 overweight or obese people (two-thirds women) to either Weight Watchers (which funded the study) or a self-guided diet (based simply on a four-page handout about healthy eating and weight-loss strategies). The spouses or cohabiting partners, most of whom were also overweight or obese, were not invited to take part in the weight-loss attempts.
After six months, the Weight Watchers group lost an average of 9.5 pounds, while the self-guided group lost 7 pounds. Meanwhile, the spouses or partners in both groups lost an average of 4.5 pounds; one-third of them lost at least 3 percent of body weight.
Much research has shown that “weight within couples is highly interdependent,” according to the researchers, and “spouses often enter marriage at a similar weight status and mirror each other’s weight trajectories over time.”
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.