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Your Marriage And Your Weight

Marriage is supposed to be good for your health, but a new study from Switzerland shows that it may not be a panacea, at least where weight is concerned. Investigators from the University of Basel and Max Planck Institute for Human Development interviewed more than 10,000 men and women in 9 European countries to compare the relationship between marital status and body mass index (BMI). They found that married men and women actually have higher BMIs than single adults and “the differences between countries were surprisingly small.” However, the researchers also reported that married people were more likely to buy more unprocessed products and less convenience food, and that married men were more likely than single men to buy organic and fair trade food. Their final report suggests that married couples, although weighing a bit more, have healthier diets than single adults. The average BMI of single men was 25.7 compared to 26.3 for married men. The average for single women was 25.1 compared to 25.6 for married women. Those differences equal about 4.4 pounds, a small but meaningful difference, suggesting that at least in one key respect, marriage isn’t as healthy as had been assumed. 

A Bad Marriage Can Hurt Your Heart

Having an unhappy marriage can raise your risk of heart disease, particularly if you're female. Hui Liu, a sociologist at from Michigan State University, looked at five years of data from 1,200 couples - ages 57 to 85 - in order to discern how happy or unhappy marriage affected heart health. She found that bad marriages have a bigger impact on heart health than good ones - they have a negative effect while good marriages don't necessarily have beneficial effects. Participating couples were asked to respond to survey questions about the quality of their marriages and their heart health - whether or not they had had heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and whether lab tests had shown high blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the body. Lui suggested that over time, stress from a bad marriage may worsen heart health because of age-related increased frailty and declining immune function and concluded that bad marriages have greater impacts on women's heart health than on men's, possibly because "women tend to internalize negative feelings and thus are more likely to feel depressed and develop cardiovascular problems."