Couples in happy marriages are likely to pile on the pounds, a study claims.
The research involving more than 160 newly-wed couples found that the more content they were in their relationship, the more weight they gained.
Over four years, couples were regularly asked to rate their satisfaction with their marriage on a scale, while their weight and height were measured.
The study found that for each unit rise in satisfaction, on average, men and women gained one tenth of a BMI unit every six months — the equivalent of a pound a year for a woman who is 5ft 4 ins tall and weighs 8½ stone.
Researchers suggested that those who were happy with their partners might be less likely to worry about their figures, because they were not motivated to look elsewhere for love.
Dr Andrea Meltzer, of the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, said: “On average, spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight.
“In contrast, couples who were less satisfied in their relationship tended to gain less weight over time.”
The researchers based their findings on data from 169 couples.
Those who stayed together tended to put on weight, while divorce was associated with shedding the pounds.
“These findings suggest people perhaps are thinking about their weight in terms of appearance rather than health,” Dr Meltzer said.
The study, published in the Health Psychology journal, suggests young couples should be educated to think about their weight as a factor of maintaining their health.
Dr Meltzer said: “By focusing more on weight in terms of health as opposed to appearance, satisfied couples may be able to avoid potentially unhealthy weight gain.”
Laura Donnelly Telegraph.co.uk