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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 294974, 16 pages
Review Article

The Association between Marital Transitions, Body Mass Index, and Weight: A Review of the Literature

1Department of Public Health, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA
2City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College, 2180 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10035, USA

Received 1 October 2011; Revised 24 March 2012; Accepted 13 May 2012

Academic Editor: Jack A. Yanovski

Copyright © 2012 Lauren Dinour et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To examine the association between different marital transitions and changes in body mass index (BMI) and body weight. Methods. A systematic literature search was conducted for peer-reviewed articles published between January 1990 and December 2011. Longitudinal studies were included if they compared dependent variables, such as BMI or weight, before and after a change in marital status. Results. Twenty articles were included: 4 articles described only transitions into marriage and/or cohabitation, 2 articles described only transitions out of marriage and/or cohabitation, and 14 articles described both. Overall, transitions into marriage were associated with weight gain, whereas transitions out of marriage were associated with weight loss. No major differences were observed between genders or across specific marital transition states. Conclusions. Additional research is warranted to better understand this phenomenon and the impact of marital transitions on obesity and obesity-related behaviors. This paper highlights potential opportunities to incorporate programs, practices, and policies that aim to promote and support healthy weights and lifestyles upon entering or leaving a marriage or cohabiting relationship.