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Researchers Linked Marital Stress To Increased Risk Of Obesity

First Posted: Oct 17, 2016 04:57 AM EDT
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Your spouse’s stress level can inadvertently affect your own personal stress level as well which can lead to extreme weight gain over time.
(Photo : Matt Cardy/ Getty Images)

Experts at the University of Michigan have conducted a study that showed how a negative marriage quality can have a dangerous effect on aging couples' waist lines, which often lead to obesity overtime. Researchers concluded that your spouse's stress level can affect your personal stress level, too.

 According to Agein, the study, although the results varied by gender, focused on chronic stress which has been happening for more than a year, and has already threatened to destroy individual resources. These circumstances include financial problems, difficulties at work or long-term care giving. Participants of the study were taken from the nationally longitudinal Health and Retirement Study at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

The study included 2,042 married couples who have finished answering questions about their waistline, negative marriage quality, levels of stress, and other factors between the years 2006 and 2010. The couples included were married for an average of 34 years. Indian Express reported that, according to Kira Birditt, the lead author of the research, greater negative quality connections as reported by husbands intensified the effects on both husbands' and wives' waistlines. What's more interesting is that lower negative quality connections reported by wives worsened the effect of wife stress on husbands' waistline.

Researchers found during the first assessment that husbands were 59 percent more at risk of being obese and wives had a 64 percent risk of being obese. However, at the end of the study, researchers concluded that husbands and wives had an increased risk of obesity, with 66 percent and 70 percent respectively. The study also revealed that about 9 percent of the participants exhibited a 10 percent increase in their waistline, which showed an average increase of 4 inches or more over four years.

Although the new study focused mainly on older married couples, there have been other studies that analyzed the levels of stress among younger married couples with varying factors, as well as results, reported Hindustan Times. "We can only assume that this may translate into health effects, although they are probably not as strong on younger, often healthier, samples,"Birditt said.

"Marriage has powerful influences on health," she said. "The stress experienced by partners, and not the individual's stress, was associated with increased waist circumference. This effect of stress was even stronger in particular spousal relationships," she continued.

Meanwhile, the study, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences, found that the husband is usually the one who experiences lower negative marriage quality, therefore greater negative feelings may not be expected, but considered to be more harmful. However, since women tend to have greater negative marital quality, low levels of negative marital quality among wives signal a lack of investment in the marriage.

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