The Surprising Health Benefit Of Being Single

Written by Emi Boscamp

To all the single people currently being bombarded by engagement photos on Facebook and Instagram: You might actually be better off than #DannyAndDotTieTheKnot.

A new study in the Journal of Family Issues shows that single adults — no matter their sexual orientation — are physically healthier when it comes to body mass index. Living alone — whether as a result of a divorce or never having been married — is associated with lower body weight.

In contrast, those who live with another person had higher BMIs, which has been linked to higher incidences of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancers, and, as a result, higher rates of mortality.

The study, led by sociologist Jay Teachman of Western Washington University, used 20 years of data which included more than 3,000 participants to examine the relationship between body weight, marital status, and changes in marital status.

He found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people experienced a short-term weight loss after divorce, which he believes is probably stress-induced. And although this effect fades over time, what he calls the "appearance effect" — when people on the market are more concerned with how they look — still persists over time. The difference in body weight between a married and single individual was about three pounds at any point in time (though a three-pound spread could put the average respondent in the obese category).

But something important to consider, as Teachman points out, is that that the individuals in this study were fairly young; the date ends at age 42, so people still had plenty of time left in their lives to gain weight.

And the myth that women are more sensitive, and therefore more conscious of their physical appearance, after a split? False. Men and women appear to react to marital status transitions in a pretty similar way.

So, maybe we're not all sitting around eating Ben & Jerry's after a breakup. Who needs to settle down? Not us!

(h/t NY Mag)

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