Nutrition

This Is What Being In A Couple Does To Your Weight

They’re calling it the couples weight loss ‘ripple effect’.

We all know that couples’ weight loss can be a minefield. People notoriously get super-tetchy when they’re cutting down on food – and worse when they’re not seeing the results they want. Giving even slightly the wrong answer to the question, “Does my butt look big in this?” can result in disastrous consequences, but losing weight in a couple can have a positive effect, too, new research has found.

couples weight loss

A new study has found that people who have a partner that’s actively trying to lose weight, tend to lose weight, too – a term that’s being coined a weight loss ‘ripple effect’.

In the study, 130 men and women aged 25 or over were assigned to a type of weight-management group for six months. The researchers also tracked their partners’ weight, even though they weren’t participating in any diet.

After the experiment had finished, the researchers found that the partners lost 3% or more of their bodyweight, despite not being on a diet. A 3% bodyweight loss is recommended nationally to achieve measurable health benefits like better insulin sensitivity.

Research in Obesity Reviews has found that couple’s weights actually tend to be very interdependent – they often enter marriage at a similar weight to each other, then mirror each other’s weight trajectories over time.

Unfortunately it’s not just weight loss that’s been shown to have a ripple effect in couples. Research in the New England Journal of Medicine has identified that if one person becomes obese, their partner has a 37% chance of developing obesity, too.

Fighting the flab with your significant other can have plenty of benefits, from enabling better communication to increasing physical and emotional intimacy, a study in Health Communication revealed.

The study also found, however, that in some cases, if one member of the couple lost weight and the other didn’t, it took its toll on the relationship. The partners who didn’t lose weight were resistant to change in the relationship causing tension, and they felt threatened and insecure by their partner’s weight loss, made critical comments towards their partner, and even tried to hamper their efforts with unhealthy food.

Don’t let the news sabotage your slimming endeavors, though. Just make sure you’re aware of the potential pitfalls of losing weight as a couple so you can deal with them in the right way. Here are our tips on how to lose weight as a couple, sans relationship meltdown…


Remember Your Gender

For heterosexual couples, going through the weight loss journey together doesn’t always mean losing weight as the same rate. Research in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews has shown that men often lose more weight than women in response to exercise – potentially because women have a greater hunger response from exercising.

Remember that your efforts may not always result in the same amounts of weight loss, so try not to let the contrasting numbers on the scales put you off.


Don’t Become The Food Police

Having your food meticulously monitored by your other half can be highly irritating. Research in the European Journal of Nutrition has shown that losing weight can disturb biosynthesis of serotonin, causing moodiness – which means you’re both likely to have sensitive moments now and again during your weight-loss journey (especially when it comes to food).

While it can be a great bonding activity to cook healthy food with each other, in order to avoid blame and resentment, it’s best to take responsibility for your own diet and exercise regime, and let your partner do the same for theirs.


Friendly Competition

A little competition between you and your partner is great, and can actually spur you on and keep you both motivated. But if your partner has lost more weight than you, weight loss can quickly can become a touchy subject, causing jealousy.

Support each other and let your partner know how well they’re doing (even if you’re doing better).


Enjoy this couples weight loss article?

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1. Gorin, A. A., Lenz, E. M., Cornelius, T., Huedo‐Medina, T., Wojtanowski, A. C., & Foster, G. D. (2018). Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Ripple Effect of a Nationally Available Weight Management Program on Untreated Spouses. Obesity. 26(3) 499-504.

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Jennifer Blow

Jennifer Blow

Editor & Qualified Nutritionist

Jennifer Blow is our editor and UKVRN Registered Associate Nutritionist – the UK’s register of competent and qualified nutrition professionals. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and a Master of Science by Research in Nutrition, and now specialises in the use of sports supplements for health and fitness, underpinned by evidence-based research. Jennifer has been quoted or mentioned as a nutritionist in major online publications including Vogue, Elle, and Grazia, for her expertise in nutritional science for exercise and healthy living. Her experience spans from working with the NHS on dietary intervention trials, to specific scientific research into omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and also the effect of fast foods on health, which she has presented at the annual Nutrition Society Conference. Jennifer is involved in many continuing professional development events to ensure her practise remains at the highest level. Find out more about Jennifer’s experience here: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-blow. In her spare time, Jennifer loves hill walking and cycling, and in her posts you’ll see that she loves proving healthy eating doesn’t mean a lifetime of hunger.


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