Researchers at the University of Connecticut study found that when one member of a couple commits to losing weight, the chances were good the other partner would lose some weight too, even if they were not actively participating in a weight loss intervention.
After tracking the weight loss progress of 130 couples over six months, researchers noted what they called a “ripple effect.”
In the study, approximately one-third of the untreated partners lost 3 percent or more of their initial body weight after six months. This was despite the fact that they were not participating in any active weight-loss program.
Shedding 3 percent of your body weight is considered a measurable health benefit. People can significantly improve their health by losing 5 to 10 percent of their body weight.
“When one person changes their behavior, the people around them change,” said Amy Gorin, a behavioral psychologist and the study’s lead investigator in a news release. “Whether the patient works with their healthcare provider, joins a community-based, lifestyle approach like Weight Watchers, or tries to lose weight on their own, their new healthy behaviors can benefit others in their lives.”
The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Obesity, also found that the rate at which couples lose weight is interlinked. So, if one member lost weight at a steady pace, their partner did too. And when one person had a hard time losing weight, their partner also struggled.
The study highlights the importance of whether your spouse or significant other supports your weight-loss efforts. It’s also important to find the right weight-loss strategy for your individual health needs.
“How we change our eating and exercise habits can affect others in both positive and negative ways,” Gorin said. “On the positive side, spouses might emulate their partner’s behaviors and join them in counting calories, weighing themselves more often, and eating lower-fat foods.”
Source: University of Connecticut news release