Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is Marriage Good or Bad for the Figure?

29.06.2015

It is generally assumed that marriage has a positive influence on health and life expectancy. But does this “marriage bonus” also apply to the health indicator of body weight? Researchers at the University of Basel and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have investigated this question in cooperation with the market research institute GfK. Specifically, they compared the body mass index of married couples with that of singles in nine European countries. The results of their study have now been published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Numerous studies have shown that marriage is good for your health. As a team of researchers from Basel, Nuremberg, and Berlin have now found, however, that does not apply to all health indicators.

Their findings show that married couples on average eat better than singles, but that they also weigh significantly more and do less sport. The researchers compared the relationship between marital status and body mass index, which relates body weight to height. A high body mass index can be a risk factor for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

The researchers drew on representative cross-sectional data from 10,226 respondents in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Their study is the first to compare the relationship between marital status and body mass index in nine European countries. Beyond their focus on married couples, the researchers conducted additional analyses with cohabiting couples. They also examined possible reasons for weight gain by asking respondents about their eating and exercise behaviors.

Findings from all nine countries showed that couples have a higher body mass index than singles – whether men or women. The differences between countries were surprisingly small.

According to the World Health Organization, a normal body mass index is between 18.5 and 25. Overweight is defined as an index between 25 and 30, and obesity as above 30. The average body mass index of the single men in the study was 25.7; that of the married men was 26.3. For women, the average index was 25.1 for singles and 25.6 for married women.

Although these differences may seem small, they are meaningful. In an average-height woman of 165 cm or an average-height man of 180 cm, they represent a difference of about 2 kg. Importantly, the effects of socio-economic status, age, and nationality are already taken into account in these results.

“Our findings show how social factors can impact health. In this case, that the institution of marriage and certain changes in behavior within that context are directly related to nutrition and body weight,” says Ralph Hertwig, Director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Survey findings on respondents’ eating and exercise behaviors offered possible reasons for this trend. For example, couples reported buying more regional and unprocessed products and less convenience food. Moreover, married men were more likely than single men to buy organic and fair trade food.

“That indicates that particularly men in long-term relationships are more likely to eat more consciously and, in turn, probably more healthily,” says Jutta Mata, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Basel. But it does not mean that they are generally healthier: The study also shows that married men do less sport than singles. “Our findings indicate that couples are not healthier in every respect, as has previously been assumed,” says Jutta Mata.

The respondents were asked about their eating and exercise behaviors and attitudes in face-to-face interviews. This approach ensures higher data quality: People’s self-reports, for example of their weight, are more realistic if they are asked in person rather than, for example, by telephone.

Background Information
Mata, J., Frank, R., & Hertwig, R. (2015). Higher body mass index, less exercise, but healthier eating in married adults: Nine representative surveys across Europe. Social Science & Medicine.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.06.001

Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin was founded in 1963. It is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of human development and education. The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the leading organizations for basic research in Europe.

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/media/2015/06/is-marriage-good-or-bad-for-the-...

Nicole Siller | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>