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University of Basel

29 June 2015

Is Marriage Good or Bad for the Figure? Comparative Study of Nine European Countries

It is generally assumed that marriage has a positive influence on health and life expectancy. But does this “marriage bonus” also apply to the health indicator of body weight? Researchers at the University of Basel and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have investigated this question in cooperation with the market research institute GfK. Specifically, they compared the body mass index of married couples with that of singles in nine European countries. The results of their study have now been published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Numerous studies have shown that marriage is good for your health. As a team of researchers from Basel, Nuremberg, and Berlin have now found, however, that does not apply to all health indicators. Their findings show that married couples on average eat better than singles, but that they also weigh significantly more and do less sport. The researchers compared the relationship between marital status and body mass index, which relates body weight to height. A high body mass index can be a risk factor for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

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