Married? You’ll Live Longer, Be Fatter
Some new research is out, and now we know: marriage will extend your life, and increase your waistline. A lot:
Having a family gives people something to live for, which may discourage risky behaviors like smoking and riding a motorcycle. Married men commit suicide at lower rates than singles, possibly for the same reason. Your spouse may urge you to get a mammogram, wear sunscreen, or have that worrisome mole checked out. A life partner provides an outlet to discuss personal stresses. (One medical argument in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage is that gay people have significantly lower stress levels when married.) Married people may remain more intellectually engaged with others, which helps avoid dementia.
Good news, right? Well, sure. But just be prepared to buy bigger pants for your golden bonus years, because:
Marriage also increases obesity rates. Getting married raises the risk of a woman becoming overweight by 3.9 percentage points compared to peers who did not marry, and marriage increases her risk of obesity by 1.4 percentage points. The effect is more pronounced for men. Married men see a 6.1 percentage point rise in the risk of becoming overweight and a 3.3 percentage point increase in the risk of obesity.
Obesity likely takes a sizable cut out of any longevity benefits of marriage. More than one-third of Americans are obese. It is a major risk factor for the leading cause of death, heart disease. The number of Americans living with diabetes, another illness linked to obesity, doubled from 1998 to 2013.
So, you know, maybe it all evens out!