Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between body mass index and marriage-related factors

Robert W. Jeffery, Allison M. Rick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the relationship between marriage and obesity. Research Methods and Procedures: Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations were examined between participant body mass index (BMI), spouse BMI, and participant diet and exercise habits. Results: Spouse and participant BMI and BMI changes over 2 years were significantly associated. Participant BMI was associated with higher consumption of calorie-dense foods and lower frequency of physical activity. Participants' eating and exercise habits were only weakly related to spouse BMI. BMI did not predict the likelihood of marriage or divorce. However, marriage was associated with a significant 2-year weight gain and divorce with a significant 2-year weight loss. Discussion: The results suggest that spouse similarity in BMI is at least partly due to shared environment. The observed effects of marriage and divorce on weight may be due to the influence of marriage on inducements to eat (e.g., shared meals) or on motivation for weight control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-815
Number of pages7
JournalObesity research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Family
  • Weight change

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