Female Weight, Diet and Physical Activity Changes During the Cohabitation Transition
Smith. Lucia L.
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Background: Research indicates cohabitating females have various health advantages over their single counterparts. However, it's unclear whether cohabitation also has a positive health effect on weight and physical activity (PA). The changes females experience in these areas following the transition from living alone to cohabitating with a partner are unclear. Researchers propose that the shared environment theory (SET) may explain the weight changes that follow cohabitation. The purpose of this study was: (1) assess whether cohabitating women* report a greater weight history change than non-cohabitating single females; (2) determine whether cohabitating women experience greater changes in diet and PA than non-cohabitating women; (3) determine whether greater changes in diet, PA and weight history in cohabitating women predict relationship satisfaction.;Methods: Retrospective data from 302 females recruited online. Self-report measures of weight, diet, PA and relationship satisfaction were completed. Results: The majority of participants were Caucasian (78.1%) with a mean age of 26.4 years (SD = 6.6). Cohabitating females reported a significantly greater increase in weight (Mdn = 2.0) compared to non-cohabitating (Mdn = 0.0) women, U = 9269, z = -2.81, p = <.05, r = -.16. Non-cohabitators reported significantly greater changes in diet compared to cohabitators, F (1, 289) = 7.05, p < .05, partial eta2 = .02. Weight history (beta = -.17, p < .05) was the only significant predictor of relationship satisfaction for cohabitating women. Conclusions: Cohabitating females experience significantly greater weight increases compared to non-cohabitating females during the cohabitation transition. However, the mechanism and process of events that explains this phenomenon are still unclear. Cohabitating females did not experience significant changes in diet or PA levels, indicating that the SET may not explain why females gain weight from cohabitating. Relationship satisfaction was inversely related to changes in weight over time. A thorough assessment of weight and its role in a female's relationship may provide clinical utility in couples' therapy or in weight loss programs.;*The term cohabitating is inclusive of married and cohabitating females who identified as being either in heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual monogamous relationships and who have no other regular residence.
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