Men gain more weight than women after divorce, study shows

Posted June 5

Men are more likely than women to gain weight after divorce due to significant diet changes. Women, though, are more likely to gain weight shortly after marriage. Here's why. (Deseret Photo)

The post-divorce blues may be more obvious in men than women when it comes to health.

According to a U.K. study published in Social Science and Medicine, men gain more weight than women following divorce as a result of significant changes in their diets.

The Wall Street Journal explained the research included 11,577 participants from ages 40 to 80. The participants took place in a health study from 1993 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2002. At the first analysis, 89 percent of men and 78 percent of women were married. By the second analysis 3½ years later, 2.4 percent of men and 4.5 percent of women became divorced, separated or widowed.

At each study interval, participants were asked how much they consumed from a group of 11 fruits and 26 vegetables. Divorced men reduced their daily fruits and vegetable consumption by 25 percent and their diets became less varied, while women's diets did not significantly change, according to Food & Wine.

"For this generation, born in the 1920s to 1960s, food skills and behaviors would have been highly gendered, with women having primary responsibility for shopping and preparing meals," Pablo Monsivais, lead author or the study, told Food & Wine.

When it comes to alcohol, men's alcohol consumption stayed constant from marriage to divorce, while women's reduced by about one drink per week, Food & Wine reported.

The U.K. study comes after a 2011 study by researchers at Ohio University that also found men put on more weight than women after divorce, but that women are more prone to gaining weight after marriage than men. The weight changes were strongest among participants who were 30 years or older when they were married or divorced.

The researchers acquired survey data from a national sample of 10,000 men and women who were 14 to 22 years old when the survey began in 1979. The participants were questioned about their weight every year until 1994 and every other year after that, according to Time.

"Married women often have a larger role around the house than men do, and they may have less time to exercise and stay fit than similar unmarried women," Zhenchao Qian, a sociology professor at Ohio State University who assisted with the study, told Science Daily.

Men are more likely to lose weight after marriage due to the large responsibilities that come from supervision of a family, according to Qian.

The research showed that marital transitions cause both men and women to gain weight.

"Although both men and women who married tended to gain weight compared with their counterparts who stayed single, women tended to gain more weight than men," Time reported. "Two years after a divorce, separated partners tended to be heavier compared with couples who remained married, but conversely, men posted larger weight gains than women."

Megan McNulty is an intern for the Deseret News National Edition. Contact her at


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