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February 23, 2012 at 10:26 AMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Study Reveals Surprising Differences Between Weight Gain in Men and Women After Marriage and Divorce

By Brad Ter Haar More Blogs by This Author

We all know that certain habits and lifestyle choices lead to weight gain: eating fast food instead of fruits and vegetables, watching TV instead of exercising, drinking soda instead of water… Often times, however, it is forgotten or taken for granted, that momentous life events also have a substantial impact on gaining extra pounds.  One of life’s most celebrated events, marriage, and one of life’s most agonizing times, divorce, both are linked to weight gain among men and women.

Interestingly, the two sexes are each impacted quite differently, as researchers from Ohio State University have discovered. After tying the knot, women tend to gain more weight than do men. On the other hand, following divorce, men appear to pile on the pounds more so than women.

In most cases, according to the study, the weight gain was minor, but enough to cause researchers to raise awareness of the impact of marriage and divorce on one’s waistline.

Gender Differences

One of my first questions, of course, was why the difference between guys and gals?

One possibility is that, married men may be encouraged by their wives to adopt a healthier lifestyle, only to return to poorer eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle following divorce. My dad, for instance, always grabbed fast food and take-out before he married my mom. So he may occasionally complain about the brussels sprouts with dinner, but he’s eating much healthier now, than he was before marrying my mom.

Women, on the other hand, may find they have much less time to exercise or prepare nutritious meals, since driving the kids to soccer practice, cleaning the house, and other obligations take priority. So don’t be surprised the next time you head to the gym if there are far fewer married than unmarried women.

Age Differences

Researchers also discovered that age plays a large role in determining how much weight one gains after tying or untying the knot. Those over 30 tended to gain more weight following marriage or divorce, compared to their younger counterparts, and the risk increased as people grew older. This may be, in part, because a pivotal change like marriage or divorce may come as a bigger shock to an older person, thereby causing significant weight gain, according to Dimitry Tumin, one of the study’s researchers.

Personally, I was a bit surprised with the results concerning age. It would seem a younger, more “inexperienced” person would be more impacted by marriage or divorced, while older, more “experienced” men and women would be more accustomed to life’s ebbs and flows. But I guess I’ll have to trust the experts on this one!

What are your thoughts?

Are you surprised by the differences in weight gain between men and women?


TIME: Men Vs. Women: Who Gains More Weight After  Marriage and Divorce?

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  • Interesting post. I'm curious-- What is the correlation between weight gain and the length of the marriage? I mean, does she gain her weight mostly early on or all throughout? Is he gain weight if he becomes divorced after a longer marriage or a shorter one? Thoughts?

  • Great question Matthew! The research studied men and women two years after marriage and two years after divorce, and compared them to singles. So more studies would be needed to research the impact on weight from a divorce following a long/short marriage.

  • Thanks for the article Brad, it seems to me in general the older you get several things happen. 1. the more you like food in general (more varieties) and 2. you become complacent and comfortable and just don't worry about your weight. and 3. you can finally each what you want when you want without someone telling you otherwise. Next thing you know you've gained 10-20 lbs.

  • Great insight Nancy, those reasons seem very possible for most of us, especially the last one. I remember shortly after leaving for college and "leaving the nest," I would have ice cream and pumpkin pie for lunch, partly because I knew my parents weren't around to tell me otherwise!

  • My husaband and I are quite the opposite on this one but I have chosen to stay active and continue my decent eating habits:). And all though he has gained some weight, not enough to be too drastic but it will catch up with a sedentary life style. I tend not to be a nagger.

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