Everyone Panic: Married Couples Are Fatter Than Single People

In Depth

A sweeping study of 10,226 people from nine countries found that married people have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than their single counterparts. Oh no, better go get a divorce before it’s too late!

According to research published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, single men had an average BMI of 25.7 to married men’s 26.7; single women averaged 25.1 while married women clocked in at 25.6. While BMI is not the most fantastic or accurate indicator of whether or not someone is what we’d really consider obese or in terrible health (check out the BMI Project for an extensive demonstration), and the difference in these averages is pretty small, the study showed that the married couples did indeed weigh more, on average, by about 4.5 pounds.

What gives? Fine, yes, there’s probably something unofficially here connected to that enduring cliché about letting oneself go after marriage, which isn’t totally disconnected from reality: For a lot of people, being in a secure relationship also means caring a little bit less about how your jeans fit. It’s the “happy fat” thing, the idea that couples are more concerned with enjoying their time together than doing crunches, and so they put on a couple of pounds.

But that’s not something researchers can actually determine, at least not in this study. Interestingly, they found that the married couples—who hailed from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom—were more likely to eat healthy meals, but skipping the KFC isn’t enough. Humans need regular exercise, and that’s something married people are doing less than singles. Exercise drops with marriage, and surveyed men were less likely to participate in more taxing physical activities, like playing sports. Apparently there’s no point to that Thursday night soccer league once you’ve stopped cruising for tail after games.

(I’d be interested in seeing if the weight gain—both male and female—correlated with having kids. It’s hard to make time for the elliptical when you’re changing diapers and shuttling your offspring to swim practice.)

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Shutterstock.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin