Non-Dieting Partners Often Lose Weight Too

Coming out of hibernation and from under layers of winter clothing is an exciting time of renewal and for many, an opportunity to re-commit to a healthier lifestyle.  With warmer weather, what we feel like eating tends to move away from hearty comfort foods to lighter fare and many adults will use the opportunity to shed a few pounds in order to live a better quality of life.  And even if your partner isn’t trying to lose weight, a new study finds that they likely will release a few pounds as well. 

Recent research, published in the journal Obesity, studied 130 married couples; one of whom was enrolled in Weight Watchers.  After 6 months on the program, the spouse who had no interest in dieting or losing weight also lost an average of 5 pounds.  And 32 percent of non-dieting spouses lost 3 percent of their body weight.  

Losing just 5 percent of your body weight has been found to significantly reduce your risk for developing chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.  It makes sense that if one partner is shopping for and preparing healthy foods and moving more, the other family members will experience a health benefit.   Likewise, who we spend time with including our circle of friends can have an impact on weight and overall health.  Companions who are active and focus on healthy foods will naturally influence the people around them.

Instead of suggesting a movie with soda, popcorn and candy, why not ask your partner or friend to join you for a hike, a bike ride or a healthy cooking class.  Small changes can make a big difference over the long-haul too; switching to whole grain bread and rice, using more fresh vegetables instead of starches and drinking more water can over time make a significant impact on weight management.  

The ripple effect of how our community influences our health is an important consideration; if you are trying to lose weight, it helps to have friends and family who support your efforts and in doing so, they may find themselves slimming down and becoming more active.   Learn more about how weight is highly interdependent between spouses by following this link to the original research article in the journal Obesity