According to a new study, the stress levels of your partner can have a negative impact on your own waistline.
It is common knowledge that stress plays in a role in people gaining weight. That is why a lot of people are recommended to take care of the stress they experience. However, it seems that seeing other people in stress can lead to the same outcome as well. Researchers from the University of Michigan have released a study which shows that spouses tend to become fat when their significant half is under stress.
It was found that women are affected the most by the stress levels of their partners. At the end of the study, the results revealed that 70% of wives were at a higher risk of becoming victim to illnesses related to weight gain. Though married men also appear to gain weight when their wives are exhausted, preoccupied or anxious, the effect is not as severe.
Researchers fear that this trend is common among those that are over 50 years old and that the increased amount of weight gain could also cause obesity. The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences.
The main focus of the study was chronic stress. Chronic stress is an ongoing ailment which occurs for more than 12 months and threatens to overwhelm the resources of an individual such as long-term caregiving, facing difficulties at work or financial problems.
The study sample consisted of 2,042 married individuals that answered questions about their stress levels, experiencing negativity in their marriage quality, waist circumference and other similar factors in the years 2006 and 2010. All of the couples had been married for 34 years on average.
The negative qualities (in a greater amount) reported by the husbands had a negative effect on the waist circumference of the both husbands and the wives. On the other hand, the lower negative qualities that were reported by the participating wives worsened the effect that the wife’s stress had on the waist circumference of the husband.
At the beginning of the study, 64% of the wives and a total of 59% husbands were at a higher risk of obesity. By the end of the study, the risk of obesity in wives rose to 70% and in husbands it was found to be 66%. The study indicated that 9% of participants reported a 10% increase in their circumference which means that they gained four inches on average for more than four years.
The lead author of the study, Kira Birditt, states that marriage has a great influence on the health of partners. Stress that’s being experienced by partners has a link with an increment of waist circumference. The effects due to stress were observed to be much stronger in some spousal relationships.
She further explained that since husbands usually experience a lesser negative marital quality, the negative feelings are less expected and thus, more harmful. Meanwhile, women usually report greater negative marital quality which means that the low levels of negative marital quality amongst the wives can be an indicator of the lack of investment in their marriage.
The researchers state that the study does not talk about the ways of reducing such kind of stress. However, according to other findings, it has been observed that it is vital for couples to work together to cope with the stress that they happen to be experiencing. This is because the goals created by both partners in a marriage are found to be more effective than those that are created individually.
According to the researchers the current results can be applied to young couples as well. Previous studies do show that stress plays a role in effecting martial quality in young couples. However, the health effects may not be as dire in young couples as the ones seen in older couples.