Written by Tunde Ajaja - Nigeria
|Real reasons women gain weight after wedding|
She used to be very slim, and her friends used to call her lepa (a slim person). In fact, the maximum weight she recorded before she got married was 35kg, even at 32 years, and by hereditary, she didn't look like someone who would likely grow fat because her parents and siblings had similar stature and outlook. But, soon after she got married, the story changed.
To the amazement of many, Blessing Michaels, who used to be compared to a broomstick by her friends and colleagues, became fat. Not only did she add weight, it became so obvious that some people thought she might have taken some pills, and anyone who never knew her would easily assume that she has always been fat.
But then, Blessing's story is similar to what many newlyweds experience, especially women. Apart from the attendant weight addition that comes with pregnancy, studies have shown that women, more than men, are likely to experience weight gain after wedding.
The question then is why do women add more weight after wedding? There have been many explanations for this, ranging from change in lifestyle, feeding habits and other factors, while some people also argue that semen deposit, occasioned by increased sexual intercourse, could make the woman add weight. The proponents of the latter theory argue that there are certain ingredients in the sperm that could make a woman add weight.
But, in a study by the Ohio State University in the United States, the researchers, who sought to know whether marital change (marriage and divorce) have any effect on weight gain, examined about 10,000 men and women aged between 14 and 22 between 1986 and 2008, to measure their weight gain in the two years after their marriage or divorce.
The participants were asked to comment about their health and noticeable weight changes yearly between the time they got married and about two years after marriage.
After examining the responses of the participants, it was found that women are more likely to put on weight after marriage, while men are more likely to add weight after a divorce. The researchers explain that there is an established relationship between weight and life events.
In giving reasons for the women's change in weight, the researchers add that apart from lifestyle, habits, diet and physical activity, women tend to have less time to exercise and stay fit, whilst eating well. They also found that women tend to focus on taking care of their husbands than focussing on themselves, noting that men who are divorcees tend to add more weight largely because of their lifestyle and feeding habit.
It notes that both married men and women are likely to gain weight compared to those who are unmarried, but that women are likely to add more weight than the men.
The researchers, sociology professor, Zhenchao Qian, and his doctoral student, Dmitry Tumin, said, "Clearly, the effect of marital transitions on weight changes differs by gender. Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk if unchecked.
"Women may tend to eat more and exercise less after getting married because of the stress of starting a family and maintaining a household, coupled with the more duties they have around the house than men, which also deprive them of time to exercise.
"Marital transitions, like any change in life, have an impact on people. There is a shock to these events, and our research shows that men and women deal with them differently. While women are more likely to add weight after marriage, men are more likely to add weight after a divorce because, for example, the wife who forces him to eat green food and helps him to stay off some drinks, is no longer there, giving room for unguided living and feeding style.
"For women in the mid-20s, there is not much of a difference in the probability of gaining weight between someone who just got married and someone who has not married. But later in life, there is much more of a difference. Thus, we found the effects to be strongest among those who were 30 or older at the time they married or divorced.
In another explanation, the researchers claim women are likely to be fatter after marriage because they tend to care less about their appearance unlike when they didn't have a husband. They note that once women find their kind of man and they end up being married, the motivating factor for keeping in shape tends to drop.
A marriage educator and management consultant, Patty Newbold, on quora.com, observed that many women enjoy cooking for their mates and that they are more likely to eat more than they did before they got married.
Meanwhile, some reports say that the sexual activity engaged in by a new couple could also be responsible for women's weight gain, claiming that some ingredients in semen could make women add weight. They also that semen contains certain hormones that function as anti-depressants, making the women happy and less depressed. But a gynaecologist, Dr. Asha Jain, told Times of India that weight gain has no link with sex or semen.
She says when people get married, the comfort of being in a relationship and the associated sense of security make people to add weight. She advises that newlyweds who do not want to add weight after marriage to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
Commenting on the study, a medical practitioner, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, notes that though there is no basic medical explanation for the weight gain after wedding, it could be attributed to the settled state of mind at that point in time.
"It is believed that once there is peace, the body tends to work well, and even those who don't eat much ordinarily are likely to eat more, which is also applicable to men, and in the process, adding weight. But, there is no medical explanation that sexual intercourse or semen has a role to play in the weight gain," he said.
Also, a consultant endocrinologist, Dr. Michael Olamoyegun, explained that for both men and women, weight gain sometimes come with age even though it tends to go down again, say after 50 years of age.
He added, "Beyond that, most of the hormones responsible for pregnancy are anabolic (associated with weight gain) in nature. So, when they get pregnant, they add weight and most people don't lose that weight even after pregnancy. Also, some women in this part of the world see weight gain as a sign of affluence."
He also said that there is no scientific explanation to support the claim that sex or semen could make a woman add weight. He added, "There are no studies to show that, and they are not related. The number of times a woman has sex has nothing to do with her weight. As an expert, I can tell you that there is nothing in sperm that could make a woman add weight."
According to a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, beyond pregnancy and its attendant effects on the physiological system of the body, such women tend to add weight because they would have overcome the anxiety that comes with wedding.
He said, "Sometimes, immediately the wedding is gone, it could be like winning a war, coupled with the relaxation that comes with being victorious. It's a time of relaxation, because all the fears and energy-sapping thoughts associated with getting a husband and wedding would have gone, which make them relaxed and put on weight.
"Considering the developmental process, there are certain stages where certain changes take place within the physiology of the body. So, some people naturally start putting on weight when they get to that stage, whether they are men or women."