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Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
January 5, 2024 ·  4 min read

You’re (Probably) Fat Because You’re Happy With Your Marriage

We’ve heard the term “fat and happy”, but married, fat, and happy? According to research, if you’re happy with your marriage, you’re more likely to be carrying a few extra pounds. Now, we have a better understanding of why. (1)

You’re More Likely To Be Overweight If You’re Happy With Your Marriage

The science can’t be denied: You’re more likely to gain weight when you’re partnered up, particularly if you’re happy with your marriage.

The University of Queensland, Australia published a study in 2018 that followed 15,001 adults for nearly 10 years between 2010 and 2015. Their results were rather peculiar. (1)

Study participants who were in couples were more likely to have healthier behaviors, such as (1):

  • Non-smoking
  • Limited fast food
  • More moderate alcohol consumption
  • Higher fruit and vegetable intake

Despite this, they were significantly less likely to be within a normal weight range. (1)

“Happy couples eat healthier but weigh more. This is the finding of our study which is consistent with other previous studies but not all,” says lead researcher Stephanie Schoeppe. (5)

Not Just One Study

Another study of 8,000 people found that married women gained an average of 24 pounds in the first five years of marriage. Women who live with their partner but aren’t married gained an average of 18 pounds. (2)

The men in the study also gained weight, but there was no difference between the married men and those that were just living with their partner. (2)

Another study found that married couples who were happy in their relationship gained more weight than unhappy couples. (2)

Individual Choices Impact Partners

They say you are who you surround yourself with, and this also largely impacts your health and fitness level.

A study that followed over 12,000 people from 1971 to 2003 found quite shocking correlations between our friends, family members, and partners, and weight gain. (3) They found that people have a (3):

  • 57% increase risk of becoming obese if a friend becomes obese
  • 40% increased risk of becoming obese if a sibling becomes obese
  • 37% increased risk of becoming obese if a spouse became obese

Typically, men had more influence over men and women had more influence over women. (3)

Read: Mom’s ‘nagging’ text about baby’s car seat saved his life in car wreck

Why A Happy Marriage Leads To Weight Gain

Couples are more likely to meal plan and make mealtime quality time. These meals are more likely to be home-cooked and contain plenty of fruits and veggies. The caveat? They are also more likely to eat more often and in bigger portions than single people. (1)

Another reason researchers from the various studies found for the weight gain was simply motivation. For a large number of people, the biggest motivating factor for staying fit is to attract a mate. When those people are in a relationship, especially one they feel happy and secure in, this changes. They don’t need to attract a mate anymore, they’ve already got one. (2, 4)

How To Prevent Marital Weight Gain

The first step to preventing happily married weight gain is to communicate with your partner.

“Couples should proactively discuss weight gain early in their relationship to see if it is a concern for either of them and why,” says psychologist Wyatt Fisher. “If it is a concern, couples should discuss how to prevent it from happening, such as making healthy dinners and exercising together.” (5)

From there couples can help each other. Some things both partners can do is:

  • Workout together, or at least encourage one another to exercise
  • Mix up your dates and leisure time between active choices and sedentary ones
  • Eat out less often
  • Be mindful of portion size
  • Choose healthy snacks and keep “junk” food and desserts to special occasions
  • Encourage one another to stay on top of routine checkups at the doctor

Just because you’re happy with your marriage doesn’t mean that weight gain is inevitable! In fact, helping one another be fit and healthy can improve marital satisfaction. As a bonus, choosing active dates and trying new activities together can create wonderful memories and bring you closer together as a couple than a standard dinner date ever could.

So grab your partner, get out there, and get moving! 

Keep Reading: I Was So Happy To Become A Mom, But I Don’t Recognize Myself Anymore


  1. Do singles or couples live healthier lifestyles? Trends in Queensland between 2005-2014.” PLOS. Stephanie Schoeppe, et al. February 28, 2018.
  2. Entry Into Romantic Partnership Is Associated With Obesity.” Wiley Online Library. September 6, 2012.
  3. The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years.” NEJM. Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and James H. Fowler, Ph.D.
  4. Higher body mass index, less exercise, but healthier eating in married adults: Nine representative surveys across Europe.” Science Direct. Jutta Mata, et al. August 2015.
  5. Your Happy Marriage Is Making You Fat.” Fatherly. Lauren Vinopal. October 27, 2018.