Losing Weight Can Be Easier with the Support of Your Partner
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Losing weight is no easy feat. But with a little help from your friends – or more likely from your partner, since most friends won’t be as invested – shedding those pounds and keeping them off can become more manageable.
No, it’s not about engaging in vigorous sex (although that can also help you burn calories and feel better, so don’t let us discourage you). Rather, recent research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020 suggests that “weight loss is most successful… when partners join the dieting effort.”
It’s all about mutual support and healthy eating. That’s what friends are for, after all.
This study was conducted on heart attack survivors, so the desired outcome was more serious than just wanting to fit into your old jeans. A total of 824 patients were randomly assigned to the “intervention group,” which included lifestyle programs on top of usual care, or the “control group”: people who received usual care alone. Individuals in the intervention group – a total of 411 people – were referred to up to three lifestyle programs for weight reduction, physical activity, and smoking cessation, depending on their needs and preferences.
The patients’ partners who were in the intervention group could participate in the programs for free, and nurses encouraged them to join as well, creating some social pressure for partners to participate. Nearly half (48%) of the partners engaged in the lifestyle interventions, although it’s worth noting that “partner participation” was defined as attending these programs at least once.
The results speak for themselves: “compared to those without a partner, patients with a participating partner were more than twice as likely (odds ratio 2.45) to improve in at least one of the three areas (weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation) within one year.” Among the three groups, the most significant results were observed in the ‘weight loss’ sub-group: “patients with a participating partner had greater success in weight reduction compared to patients without a partner (odds ratio 2.71).”
Study author Lotte Verweij said, “Couples often have comparable lifestyles, and changing habits is difficult when only one person is making an effort. Practical issues come into play, such as grocery shopping, but also psychological challenges where a supportive partner can help maintain motivation.”
The main challenge here is to consider the social aspect of dieting, as well as the biological. Following a specific diet often means that people will be eating different foods at different times, all of which can impact those around them. A supportive partner and a social environment could result in a smoother transition to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.