Study Says People Who Live Alone Are Thinner

Dec 18, 2015 02:20 PM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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Being single might be linked to loneliness, depression and binge-eating, but a new study suggests otherwise.

Medical Daily reports a study set to be published in the January edition of the Journal of Family Issues reveals that those who are living without partners, single or divorced, are associated to lower body weight. Married people and co-habiters, on the other hand, were found to have higher Body Mass Index - which is linked to increased risks for chronic problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and higher mortality rates.

For the study, sociologist Jay Teachman from Western Washington University looked at 20 years of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (1979) and examined the body weight, marital status and relationship transitions (break-ups) of over 3,000 participants between ages 39 and 42.

Teachman found that people experienced short-term weight-loss after having a divorce, which he believes were caused by major stress. "The divorce effect fades over time," he told Science of Us. "But the data show that 'the appearance effect' persists. Single people are thinner and likely more concerned about how they look because they are in the dating market."

Meanwhile, Teachman thinks couples that live in one house had heavier BMIs because they were more likely to enjoy cooking together and sharing meals.

Further, Teachman also discovered a significant racial difference among women. According to his findings, white women had the least rapid weight-gain, while black women gained weight the fastest regardless of their marital status. "White women and black women start off the same, but then black women put on weight faster," he said. "Men and women, though, appear to react to changes in marital status in a similar way."

Although the average weight difference between single and married people was only about three pounds, Teachman explains these pounds could still push a person into the obese category.

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