Women beware! Shacking up with a m-a-n can make you fat!

Study says that cohabitation leads to weight gain for women, but not for men.


Katharine Mieszkowski
April 7, 2006 1:39AM (UTC)

The British press is thick with the news that a woman typically gains weight when she moves in with a man, according to a new study. A few choice headlines: "All Sweetness and Light -- but Women Pile on the Pounds" and "Boyfriends Make You Fat." But the most hysterical one of all comes from India: "Men Are Injurious to Women's Health!"

The theory is that when a woman and a man move in together they enjoy a honeymoon period where they're both trying to please each other, each eating what the other likes, according to Amelia Lake of Newcastle University's Human Nutrition Research Centre, who conducted the research. Since women tend to eat a healthier diet than men, the man's diet usually improves while the woman's takes a slide. Yet, in the longer term, the woman's food choices have the most influence over the couple's diet, since the majority of female partners still do the food shopping and cooking. Thus, the improvements in the man's diet and health are often lasting. In other words, the headline from India could have been: "Women Are Beneficial to Men's Health!"

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Still, in the wake of these stories, I foresee a nasty lawsuit. I'll start working on the headline now: "Woman Sues Ex Over Excess Pounds."

Lake cautioned against her research leading to just such loony reasoning: "You can't just blame an unhealthy lifestyle or diet on your partner, as there are many other things that affect what you eat and do. However, research has shown that your partner is a strong influence on lifestyle and people who are trying to live healthier lives should take this factor into consideration. Couples who move into together should use the opportunity of the honeymoon period to make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle by working together and supporting each other."


Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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