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Obesity Research Spotlight — Weight Loss Ripple Effect in Spouses

from Robyn Gordon, TOS Communications Coordinator

From Feb. 21: Behavioral weight management programs have impacts not just on the person undergoing treatment but also on spouses. A new study published in Obesity tracked the weight loss progress of 130 spouses over a 6 month period. Lead author Amy Gorin, PhD and colleagues found that the rate at which spouses lose weight is interlinked. In other words, if one member loses weight at a steady pace, their partner did too.

In this study, 130 spouses were randomly assigned to Weight Watchers or a self-guided control group. Participants were ages 25-70 years old and were assessed at 0,3 and 6 months. Also, treated participants had to have a body mass index range from 27 to 40 kg/m2 and at least 25 kg/m2 for untreated spouses. Couples assigned to the Weight Watchers group had only one member enrolled in a structured 6-month weight loss program that provided in-person counseling and online tools to assist with weight loss. In the self-guided group, one member of the couple received a four-page handout with information on healthy eating, exercise, and weight control strategies (e.g., choosing a low-fat, low-calorie diet, portion control). The results indicate that nearly one-third (32%) of untreated spouses in both groups lost ≥3% of their initial body weight (weight loss based on obesity management guidelines) at the 6-month mark, and weight loss did not differ between untreated spouses of Weight Watchers and self-guided participants. Overall, untreated spouses can also benefit from weight loss of their treated spouses.

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