Research: Your Weight Loss May Help Your Spouse


Your motivation may help your spouse lose weight.  

Obese couple

Obese couple

I have long felt that my wife did not help my weight loss.  Over the years, I have tried to lose weight to meet the standards required for my work, and my family seems to lack the diligence to back up my efforts.  When my spouse develops a medical condition or food gives them headaches, I have to avoid them, but when my work requires that I maintain a certain level of health or a weight standard, I do not get the same level of support.  The good news is that you should not let their level of support dissuade you from trying to be healthy because, if you lose weight, your spouse will likely lose weight also.  This will happen even if they aren’t on a weight loss plan.

A recent trial proved this very point.  The study, published in February 2018, examined this ripple effect in a nationally available weight management program1.  The subjects included one hundred thirty couples that were randomized to Weight Watchers or to a self-guided control group.  They were assessed at 0, 3, and six months intervals.  Weight Watchers participants received six months free access to in-person meetings and online tools.  SG participants received a weight loss handout. Spouses did not receive treatment.  The researchers found untreated spouses lost weight at three and six months despite not receiving the intervention.  Overall, 32.0% of untreated spouses lost over 3% of initial body weight by six months. 

Another study has shown a similar effect2.   

The bottom line: You can help your spouse by losing weight.  Evidence of a ripple effect was found in untreated spouses, so keep losing weight, and it will help your spouse lose weight also. 


Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Ripple Effect of a Nationally Available Weight Management Program on Untreated Spouses. Obesity. 10.1002/oby.22098/full” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> Published February 1, 2018. Accessed February 2, 2018.
Gorin A, Wing R, Fava J, et al. Weight loss treatment influences untreated spouses and the home environment: Evidence of a ripple effect. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(11):1678-1684. [PMC]
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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