Talk about irreconcilable differences between husband and wife! A recent study has found that spouses can have a “ripple effect” on their partner’s efforts to lose weight in the home environment.

The researchers studied the spouses of overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes who were involved in a multicenter randomized trial to lose weight. The spouses were either assigned to an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) or simply given diabetes education and support. All participants and spouses were weighed at baseline and at the end of the 12-month trial.

During the year, spouses in the ILI group lost more weight than those in the conventional group; more ILI group members lost over 5% of their body weight; and this group also had greater reductions
in energy intake and percent of energy from fat. Better yet, the ILI spouses helped banish more high-fat foods
from the home to support their
partner’s efforts.

“The reach of behavioral weight loss treatment can extend to a spouse, suggesting that social networks can
be utilized to promote the spread
of weight loss, thus creating a ripple effect,” the authors concluded in the September 2, 2008, online issue of
the International Journal of Obesity.