22/08/2011 04:44 BST | Updated 21/10/2011 06:12 BST

Marriage And Divorce Make You Likely To Gain Weight, Study Says

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Marriage and divorce are both bad for your waistline, new research suggests.

But while women tend to gain weight after their wedding day, men are most affected by marital breakdown. Both kinds of "marital transition" can act as "weight shocks" that put on the pounds, a study has found.

"Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk," said study leader Dmitry Tumin, from Ohio State University in the US.

The likelihood of major weight gain after marriage or divorce increased most for people past the age of 30.

"For someone in their mid-20s there is not much difference in the probability of gaining weight between someone who just got married and someone who never married," said Mr Tumin, a doctoral student in sociology. "But later in life, there is much more of a difference."

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, US.

Researchers used survey data on more than 10,000 people to investigate whether marriage and divorce led to weight gains or losses. They took account of a wide range of other factors that can influence changes in weight, including pregnancy, poverty, socioeconomic status and education.

Both men and women who married or divorced were more likely than never-married individuals to experience a small level of weight gain after a "marital transition". The results tie in with other research on how marriage affects men and women, say the scientists.

"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," said Zhenchao Qian, professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

"On the other hand, studies show that married men get a health benefit from marriage, and they lose that benefit once they get divorced, which may lead to their weight gain."