Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Does this wedding ring make me fat?

From TODAY, Health
Tuesday September 9, 2008

Couples tend to put on weight after they get married


ON YOUR wedding day, you promised to love your spouse “for richer for poorer” and “in sickness and in health”. Now, you may want to add “extra kilos” to that list of wedding vows too.

Researchers have found that married couples tend to put on weight after their wedding.

According to a study by the US Obesity Society released late last year, many married and singles in their late teens and early 20s gain a significant amount of weight — an average of 6.8kg to 13.6kg — over five years.

But newly married men and women in that age group pack on 2.7 to 4kg more than their peers who are single and dating, with women gaining as much as 11kg and men gaining 13.6kg in a five-year-period.

There is currently no local data on post-wedding weight gain, but weight management and nutrition experts Today spoke to said this tends to be a common phenomenon among Singaporean married couples, too.

With new responsibilities setting up a new home and family, newlyweds may have less time for exercise.

Take married couple, Siti and Yusof bin Muhammad Ali, for example. Mrs Yusof weighed 75kg before they married two years ago, but has since packed on seven extra kilos.

Her husband has put on 5kg since his pre-marriage days. He now weighs 75kg.

Explaining their weight gain, Mrs Yusof said: “After we got married, eating together was a sort of novelty for us. We ate out a lot. When we stayed at home, we would have fast food delivered.”

Dr Stanley Liew, a consultant endocrinologist at Raffles Hospital who deals with patients with weight management problems, said the root of the problem is often due to “lifestyle changes” after marriage, as in case of Mr and Mrs Yusof.

“Those who are married may feel that staying slim is no longer as important as when they were single. After all, since they’re already married, they may feel that they do not have to look their best to attract the opposite sex,” said Dr Liew.

Ms Diana David, a nutritionist in private practice, agreed.

“The singles and those who are dating tend to watch their weight, especially if they want to impress or please the one they hope to marry. They may exercise more,” she said.

A more sedentary lifestyle after marriage could also cause couples to put on weight.

“With new responsibilities of setting up a new home and family, there may be less time for exercise or it may be neglected entirely,” said Ms David.

Dr Liew said it is also not unusual for couples to gain weight almost “immediately” after their wedding day, especially during their honeymoon period when they “often spend time eating together and enjoying life”.

But unlike the findings from the US survey, Dr Liew added that from his experience and findings from a 2004 National Health Survey, Singaporean women tend to put on more weight compared to their husbands.

“The 2004 survey found that Singaporean women in their 30s and 40s appeared to gain more weight than men,” he said. He attributed it to pregnancy weight gain, which may increase significantly after several pregnancies.

For first-time mother, Edayna Kwok, marriage and pregnancy have both contributed to an expanding waistline.

She weighed 59kg on her wedding day last June, after losing 15kg in a drastic two-month weight loss programme. She regained the same amount of weight within the first three months of her marriage when she conceived her first child.

“I think being pregnant made me feel hungrier. So, I ate a lot. But to be honest, I also slacked a lot after my wedding. I ate more fast food and didn’t exercise as much,” she said.

But not every marriage is a graveyard for trim figures. After all, “the weight gain is not something that happens out of the blue”, said Ms David.

Ultimately, weight gain is linked largely to “diet and exercise”.

“There’s always cause-and-effect. If we eat more calories than we burn off, we’ll put on weight.

“Married couples need not gain weight if they continue to watch themselves and are careful to exercise regularly and to eat healthfully,” she said.
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