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The Surprising Health Perk of Living Alone

The Surprising Health Perk of Living Alone

December 15, 2015

Being unmarried and living on your own can do wonders for your waistline. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to research that will be published in the January 2016 edition of the Journal of Family Issues, single adults are more likely to have a lower BMI (body mass index) compared to those who are cohabitating with a spouse.

The lead investigator from Western Washington University compiled the data of more than 3,000 men and women over the course of 20 years. During that time period—when the study participants were, on average, between the ages of early 20’s through early 40s—he took note of their body weight and marital status, as well as their relationship transitions, a.k.a. breakups.

And here’s what he discovered:

  • Living without a partner  — either being divorced or never married — is associated with lower body weight.
  • Single people — regardless of their sexual orientation—were about three pounds lighter than those who were living in wedding bliss.
  • Adults who went through a divorce were likely to experience short-term weight loss.
  • Whether single or married, men and women followed the same weight patterns.

“Differences in weight are likely the function of more than just one factor,” study author Jay D. Teachman, a professor in the Department of Sociology, tells Yahoo Health.

Generally speaking, he believes one reason why adults who’ve walked down the aisle are more likely to see a higher number of the scale is because they tend to cook and eat with their beloved. Another possibility—married folks tend to become more relaxed in their relationship.

As for the single adults: “They may be lighter because they remain in the market for a partner,” he states.

However, his findings uncovered a divide among the races. “While black women and white women do react the same to marital status, the article found that irrespective of marital status, black women gained weight more rapidly than white women,” says Teachman. “And the same applies for black men. Again, this (finding of) more rapid weight gain for blacks had nothing to do with marital status.”

Further research would be necessary in order to determine the possible explanations for these outcomes. “The data available did not contain information on variables, such as exercise and diet,” adds Teachman. “I wish they did!”

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