Ryan Jaslow , CBS News
Losing weight can tack on quality years of life for overweight
individuals, but a new study suggests it might lead to the demise of
your relationship if both partners aren't all-in on the transition.
need to be aware that weight loss can change a relationship for better
or worse," study author Dr. Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of
communication at NC State.
Researchers recruited 21 couples from
across the U.S., each of which had one partner who lost 30 or more
pounds in less than two years. On average, most lost about 60 pounds
during that time.
All participants were given questionnaires asking about how the weight loss impacted their relationship.
weight loss, most couples said they were more communicative in a good
way: The partner who lost the weight was more likely to talk about
healthy living and inspire his or her partner to engage in or maintain
one as well. When both partners were receptive to these healthy changes,
they reported boosts in physical and emotional intimacy.
But, some partners who lost weight resorted to nagging their
significant other to follow their lead, which the researchers say caused
Others who hadn't lost weight said they felt
threatened and insecure by their partner who did lose the extra pounds
-- they tended to be the most resistant to change in their
relationships, the researchers pointed out. Often they'd make critical
comments towards their partner, lose interest in sex or try to sabotage
them with unhealthy meals to prevent their relationship from changing.
says her study suggests communication plays an important role in a
healthy relationship. When both partners were on board with the
healthier changes and support was strong, couples were brought closer
together. When a partner resisted the changes or was not supportive, the
relationship took a hit.
"This study should not dissuade anyone from losing excess weight, but
it should encourage people to be aware of the potential pros and cons
of weight loss on their relationship," she said. "It is really important
for the partner of someone trying to lose weight to be supportive of
their significant other without feeling threatened by their health
changes. This approach will help people lose weight without jeopardizing
the quality of their relationship."
The study was published Oct. 24 in Health Communication.
fall into these patterns with people we have relationships with," Dr.
Charlotte Markey, chair of psychology at Rutgers University in New
Brunswick, N.J., told HealthDay. She reviewed the study's findings. "When these patterns shift, it can be unsettling."
recommended discussing any feelings of inadequacy as they arise if one
partner is losing weight while one that may also need to isn't.
"Hopefully the partner will say 'Well, you shouldn't.,'' she said.