Three out of four Americans in a relationship (79 percent) are carrying around a bit of “love weight,” according to new research.
A study of 2,000 people in relationships found that the average respondent had gained 36 pounds since they’ve first started dating their current partner — 17 pounds of which were gained in the first year alone.
Men were also much more likely to report a weight gain during the first year of a relationship than women (69 percent and 45 percent respectively.)
The research, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Jenny Craig, found this “love weight” phenomenon is due chiefly to the uptick in dining out when starting a new relationship, with 41 percent of participants citing just that as one reason.
An increase in ordering takeout or cooking at home while drinking together was the second biggest reason “love weight” occurs (34 percent). Being comfortable in your relationship and no longer feeling the pressure to look your best all the time was cited as a big reason “love weight” occurs as well, with 64 percent of respondents saying it was a factor in their weight gain.
On average, this comfort zone in a relationship starts to occur after one year and five months, according to results.
However, individuals aged 18-24 reached the comfortable phase of their relationships the quickest at just over ten months, while those aged 45-54 took the longest to reach this phase, clocking in nearly a year and a half before they felt comfortable.
Getting married is another surprisingly common weight gain trigger, with 57 percent of respondents admitting they encountered some weight gain within the first year of marriage — 17 pounds on average.
On average, men estimate they put on nearly twice as much weight as women during the first year of their marriage, with 22 pounds and 13 pounds gained respectively.
Five years into the marriage is when the most weight is gained, according to the survey, with "starting a family" given as the biggest reason married people start to be less mindful of their own body (42 percent).
But despite gaining some “love weight,” people are making efforts to get healthier. In fact, most individuals have seen some success: over half of which (55 percent) said they’ve lost weight in the past year, with the average respondent losing 16 pounds in the past 365 days.
And if you need someone to motivate you to develop healthier habits, who better than your partner? In fact, 52 percent of respondents say they currently exercise with their partner, 60 percent currently eat healthy with their partner, and some even do both (40 percent).
The benefits of exercising and eating healthy together are undeniable, with those who do both with their partner being more than twice as likely to say they’ve lost weight in the past year than those who do neither.
The benefits don’t stop at weight loss: Couples who exercise and eat healthy together are also nearly twice as likely to say they’re consistently happy in their relationship than those who don’t.
“The data shows that while people have gained weight in a relationship, they are recognizing that they need to lose it, and that is great news for their health,” said Monty Sharma, president and CEO of Jenny Craig. “
According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, “we know that close relationships affect the health outcomes of individuals. This data is a clear indicator that couples who support each other in a healthy lifestyle together can reap the benefits of happiness together as well."
Peeke also says there are long-term negative side effects of weight gain, "such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and more. But by engaging in healthy habits earlier in your relationship, couples can potentially prevent these problems while also building a strong foundation for optimal health and wellness.”
But what about those who are single? It turns out being on the prowl for a potential partner is a big weight loss motivator, too. However, men were a lot more likely (21 percent) to name this is as a “main” motivator towards weight loss than women (14 percent).