Natural Weight Loss May Mean Re-Evaluating Close Relationships

Current science news is showing us that natural weight loss begins at home. A study published in the August, 2011 issue of the American Journal of Public Health shows that negative aspects of close relationships are correlated with weight gain.

I love this study because it followed people for a whopping average of 11 years, asking about close relationships all along. In addition, the researchers monitored body-mass index (BMI) and waist circumference - two measures that are associated with obesity and risks for coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.

Of course they also asked about lifestyle factors - physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, smoking status, employment grade, age, gender, ethnicity, and marital status... all-together, making this a well-designed survey study.

So here's what they found:

  • Negative perception of close relationships at the onset was associated with an increase in BMI and waist circumference, and...
  • Those who reported negative aspects of close relationships at the onset and 3-5 years later were the most likely to gain weight.

But almost more interesting were the following:

  • People who began the study at an ideal weight did not show increases in BMI or waist circumference even if they perceived their closest relationships negatively.
  • Those who began the study overweight were not likely to lose weight in the absence of adverse close relationships.

Together, I believe this study suggests that personality type is paramount in weight loss and weight management. It appears as though those who have gained weight, and are continuing to gain weight, also seem to be more likely to stay in negatively-rated relationships. In addition, those who have managed their weight in spite of adverse relationships continue to do so regardless of the persistence of that relationship.

This study does not say that that weight gain is necessarily a coping mechanism for negative relationships, although that is possible. It could be that both behaviors (staying in a lousy relationship and gaining weight) are determined by a third independent aspect of personality.

I would guess, as a result of this study, that there is a subset of individuals whose natural weight loss efforts would benefit from self-examination... especially if they are the type who finds themselves in persistent adverse close relationships.

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