Weight loss is contagious: Here’s how your partner’s efforts can help you shed pounds

Weight loss is contagious: Here’s how your partner’s efforts can help you shed pounds

Many of us take the steps to lose weight because we want to feel and look better. But could personal weight-loss efforts benefit our partners, too? Turns out, it can.

According to a study conducted by Professor Amy Gorin and colleagues at the University of Connecticut, when one partner participates in a weight loss program, the untreated partner can also experience weight loss.

The study followed 130 couples—defined as partners living together—for six months, during which one person in each relationship followed a weight loss program. The couples were divided into two groups. In the first group, one partner in each couple joined an organized weight loss program, with access to targeted counseling and dedicated online tools.

In the other, one partner in each couple was given a handout with advice about healthy diet, exercise, and strategies for weight management. This “self-guided” group received no further guidance.

The findings showed that the untreated partners of both groups who had not been directly participating in the weight loss program or given the weight management handouts had also lost weight, alongside their significant others.

“When one person changes their behavior, the people around them change,” said Gorin, qualifying this tendency as a “ripple effect.” “How we change our eating habits can affect others in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, spouses might emulate their partner’s behaviors and join them in counting calories, weighing themselves more often, and eating lower-fat foods.”

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*Results and patient experience may vary.

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