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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 297268, 8 pages
Research Article

Examining a Ripple Effect: Do Spouses’ Behavior Changes Predict Each Other’s Weight Loss?

1Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
2Department of Psychology, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618, USA
3Department of Psychology, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut, 2006 Hillside Road, Unit 1248, Storrs, CT 06269, USA

Received 1 April 2013; Revised 7 June 2013; Accepted 1 August 2013

Academic Editor: Tricia M. Leahey

Copyright © 2013 Anna E. Schierberl Scherr 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.


Background. Including spouses in obesity treatment has been found to promote weight loss. We assessed whether spouses’ diet and activity changes impacted each other’s weight loss when both members attended an active weight loss program (TOGETHER) or only the primary participant attended treatment (ALONE). Methods. Heterosexual couples ( ) enrolled in an 18-month randomized controlled weight loss trial were weighed and completed measures of dietary intake and physical activity at baseline and 6 months. We conducted dyadic data analyses using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model. Results. Participants’ weight loss was not predicted by their partners’ behavior changes. However, partners’ weight loss was predicted by their participants’ changes in calorie and fat intake. When partners were coupled with a participant who did not reduce their own calorie and fat intake as much, these partners had higher weight loss when treated in the TOGETHER group but lower weight loss when they were untreated in the ALONE group. There were no reciprocal effects found with physical activity changes. Conclusions. Direct treatment had the greatest impact on participants and partners who were treated. Untreated partners’ weight losses were positively impacted by their spouses’ dietary changes, suggesting a ripple effect from treated spouses to their untreated partners.