Second-hand weight loss? That sounds absolutely absurd. As it turns out, probably not. A recent study by University of Connecticut behavioral psychologists has made some groundbreaking findings in the area of fitness.
Here's what happened: Health and fitness experts surveyed 130 couples over six months and found out that there was some positive effects in a person's body when their partner started losing weight by following a dietary plan and exercising.
The Ripple Effect Of Weight Loss
To put it simply, if one member of the couple starts losing weight, chances are high that their partner will also lose some weight as well, regardless if they're actively participating in the weight loss themselves or not.
In the study published Feb. 1 in the Obesity journal, about a third of the untreated partners loss 3 percent or more of their weight after six months, despite not actively seeking to shed pounds.
"When one person changes their behavior, the people around them change," according to Amy Gorin, associate professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Connecticut.
"Whether the patient works with their healthcare provider, joins a community-based, lifestyle approach like Weight Watchers, or tries to lose weight on their own, their new healthy behaviors can benefit others in their lives," added Gorin.
In addition, when the other member of a couple continues their weight loss at a continuous pace, their other half will too. Similarly, when the other person struggles to shed pounds, their partners finds difficulty as well.
The researchers divided the couples into two groups: the first one consisted of partners who strictly followed a weight loss program, while the second one only received a handout with information on healthy eating and exercising. Both groups, however, showed that when one of the partners began losing weight, so will their other half.
"Evidence of a ripple effect was found in untreated spouses in both formal and self-guided weight management approaches," the study's conclusion states. "These data suggest that weight loss can spread within couples, and that widely available lifestyle programs have weight loss effects beyond the treated individual."
Gorin hopes the findings of the study will push national weight loss programs and health care providers to consider the "ripple effect" caused by a person's commitment to losing weight. In an upcoming study, Gorin and her team want to observe whether a person's own weight loss affects other household members as well.