It’s accepted wisdom that women tend to gain weight after having a baby, but a new study shows that even childless women put on pounds if they live with a partner, as opposed to those who don’t. Over a 10-year period, the weight gain for an average 140-pound woman was 20 pounds if she had a baby and a partner; 15 if she had a partner, and no baby; and only 11 pounds if she was childless and single. Having a partner is not likely to cause metabolic changes, so the weight gain is almost definitely caused by altered behaviour. The study covered over 6,000 Australian women over a ten-year period ending in 2006; at the beginning of the study, women ranged in age from 18 to 23. By the end, more than half had college degrees; about three-quarters had partners, and half had at least one child. Almost all the weight gain happened with the first baby. Maureen A. Murtaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Utah who studies weight and women, believes a more active social life could explain why women with partners gain weight. “Think of going to a restaurant,” she told the newspaper. “They serve a 6-foot man the same amount as they serve me, even though I’m 5 feet 5 inches and 60 pounds lighter.”
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.