Experts sometimes compare the psychological stress of divorce to that of the death of a close family member. The effects can be severe and the emotional scars can take years to heal, if they ever do. Weight gain is a common side-effect of stress so perhaps it may be somewhat expected for a person going through a divorce to put on a few pounds. What may be surprising, though, is that after a divorce, men seem to gain more weight than women.
A study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University considered data taken from more than 10,000 men and women to see if a relationship exists between life events and weight gain or loss. Factors such as race, education, income were taken into consideration, while lifestyle factors such as diet or exercise were not. The findings pretty clearly established that while women tend to gain more weight than men soon after marriage, men tend to gain more than women soon after divorce.
There are obviously a large number of factors that could contribute to weight gain by either sex in either situation. Ohio State sociology professor Zenchao Qian observes, “Never-married women tend to take care of their health and body more carefully than never-married men, for example, so after marriage, women are more likely to gain compared to their never-married counterparts.” Dr. Qian also notes that men tend to gain structure when they marry, with more consistent and often healthier habits, and therefore tend to lose weight after marriage.
After divorce, the trend goes in the opposite direction. Many women will revert to taking better care of themselves, eating healthier and exercising more thus losing weight in general. Men, however, often find themselves with less structure and supervision after a divorce, and as shown in the study, tend to gain weight. While the Ohio State study did not attempt to research exercise or eating habits of its participants, some of the reasons behind the findings are fairly easily speculated.
The study’s findings do not unequivocally mean that every woman will gain weight when she gets married or every man will gain weight when he gets divorced. The findings only serve to show a trend in how major life events can affect weight gain or loss of the people involved. Simply being aware the trend exists might be enough for some to make the conscious effort to lose weight where the study suggests they might be gaining. Perhaps in another decade or so, another relational study will be needed to see if the trend is continuing or has somehow changed.
If you live in Illinois and are considering divorce, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Every situation is unique and we will help you to better understand yours. You can count on our attorneys to be at your side throughout the process, making sure your rights under the law are fully protected.