Nfstlo

Study

NIH Funds Study to Link Obesity with Relationship Styles

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of DatingAdvice.com's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles and reports have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

Discuss This! Discuss This!
Advertiser Disclosure

Can your relationship’s dynamics make you fat? One study, funded by the National Institute of Health, aims to find out.

Associate Professor at the University of Arizona Emily Butler is leading a study examining the way different relationship dynamics may influence habit formation. Butler suspects romantic relationships aren’t given enough credit when it comes to how individuals within those relationships develop healthy or unhealthy habits related to diet and exercise — habits that can lead to either weight gain or weight maintenance. While the study focuses on couples that have recently moved in with each other and have begun to identify and establish shared habits, the study does not exclude the possibility its findings will hold true for all couples.

The study will focus on two relationship dynamic patterns. The first pattern is defined as “demand-withdrawal”: one partner will attempt to make the other partner change their unhealthy habits, leading to the unhealthy partner feeling like they’re being nagged and unduly pressured. This nagging causes the unhealthy partner to withdraw from the relationship and indulge further into their unhealthy habits. The “demand-withdrawal” pattern is primarily related to avoidance behavior.

 

“Relationships aren’t given enough credit when it comes

to how individuals develop healthy or unhealthy habits.”

The second pattern, identified as “symptom system fit,” instead relates to couples who attach positive associations to shared unhealthy behavior. Indulging in these unhealthy behaviors together is either itself a positive element of the relationship, or the behaviors benefit the relationship in an indirect manner though either “creating closeness or avoiding conflict.”

Butler explains further, stating “If we see evidence of couples sharing in excessive eating or sedentary activities together in ways that actually bond them and make them feel warm and fuzzy about each other, those couples could get in trouble over time.”

At the moment, Butler and her colleagues are still recruiting couples that have recently moved in together for the study. Participants will be weighed, measured, and their psychology and habits evaluated at the start of the study and at the conclusion of the study, six months after initiating.

Advertiser Disclosure

DatingAdvice.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). DatingAdvice.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.