BATH, England — Take a look at a man’s wedding picture, and take a look at him now. What’s different? Yes, he’s still the happy, love-struck man he was in the picture, but he may be wearing a couple of extra pounds. New research finds that men get fatter after marriage, and becoming a new father-to-be adds to the weight gain as well.
Researchers from the University of Bath say the average married man tends to add 2.5 pounds due to letting themselves go and eating less healthy foods. Social scientists have been known to link marital status with weight change.
“Individuals who are on the matching market have higher incentives and exert more effort to stay fit than individuals who are already or still married, resulting in higher BMI among married individuals than those not married,” says lead researcher and Business Economist in the School of Management, Dr. Joanna Syrda, in a university press release.
Syrda conducted the research by analyzing the height and weight data of 8,729 men that was collected from 1999 to 2013. She found that the factors that caused male body mass index (BMI) to fluctuate were marriage, fatherhood and divorce.
One theory Syrda suggested was that married couples may eat more regular meals (thank the home-cooked ones!) and they have more social obligations which can involve heavier foods.
The data that really proves this theory that marriage makes men heavier are numbers that showed men’s BMI decreased when they were back on the market — before and after a divorce.
Although the average married men weigh about three pounds heavier, the rates of obesity are still higher than they ever should be. Being overweight causes a grocery list of health issues including heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes.
“It’s useful for individuals to understand which social factors may influence weight gain, especially common ones such as marriage and parenthood, so that they can make informed decisions about their health and well-being,” says Syrda. “For married men who want to avoid BMI increases that will mean being mindful of their own changing motivation, behaviour and eating habits.”
The full study was published in this month’s edition of the journal Social Science and Medicine.