The divorce diet

June 14, 2010
Abby Ellin finds some interesting body-weight literature:

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Abby Ellin finds some interesting body-weight literature:

A 2008 study in the Journal of Economics and Human Biology examined data from 12,000 men and women ages 18 to mid-40s. Compared with when they were single, the body mass index (or B.M.I., a height-to-weight ratio) of married men increased by 1.5 percent above and beyond what they would normally gain as they aged, and that of women shot up 2 percent…

The B.M.I. of couples who lived together without making it legal increased by only about 1 percent…

If the relationship disintegrates people tend to lose weight. According to Professor Argys, divorced men usually revert to their pre-marriage B.M.I., and divorced womens’ B.M.I.’s are actually 2.5 percent lower than when they married.

The abstract is here; an ungated version of the paper is here. One big question, of course, is how come obesity has been rising even as fewer people have been getting married. Of course you want a pretty chart:


I’m surprised that women are so much heavier on their wedding day than they were one year earlier. That doesn’t conform with what I’ve seen.


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