Node Smith, ND

You Know What They Say About Couples Who Diet Together?

This week an interesting study on couples who diet together has been circulating. The research, conducted at the University of Connecticut, showed that when one adopts a healthier lifestyle and loses weight, the other partner is likely to lose weight too.1 This may seem so obvious, especially from an objective point of view, however, differences in habits can be major obstacles for individuals trying to make life changes on their own. It’s a lot easier when support can be found from within the family. However, this study may suggest that even if one partner is making conscious changes, both will benefit.

Couple-Dieting Study Stats

The study looked at 130 individuals trying to lose weight over a 6-month period of time. They found that if one partner is committed to achieving their goals, the other partner is more likely to lose some weight, regardless of setting goals themselves. A third of the participants of the study had partners who saw a 3 percent weight loss without any overt effort. It seems to be a “ripple effect.”

When One Person Changes, so Do Many

Lead author, Amy Gorin, Professor and Behavioral Psychologist at the University of Connecticut, explains, “When one person changes their behavior, the people around them change. Whether the patient works with their healthcare provider, joins a community-based, lifestyle approach like Weight Watchers, or tries to lose weight on their own, their new healthy behaviors can benefit others in their lives.”

Study Analyzed Cohabitating Couples

The study looked at couples living together. It assessed them over 3-6 months. The couples were divided in two groups. One group was enrolled in weight watchers group (only one partner was enrolled). The other group was issued a 4-page health advisory booklet on weight loss and healthy lifestyle, and further follow up was conducted throughout the study.

Your Partner’s Success is Yours as Well

At the end of the study, both groups showed some weight loss. But the interesting part, the partners of any individual who successfully lost weight, also experienced weight loss. The rate at which a partner lost weight was proportional to the weight lost by the other partner.

It makes sense, that if one partner is serious about making changes, the other partner is going to be affected as well. Most couples eat together regularly enough to make key changes in diet likely to affect both members of the relationship.

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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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