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Partner and Lifestyle Choices Impact Obesity

Partner and Lifestyle Choices Impact Obesity

Obesity appears influenced more by choices made by a person and his or her partner, rather than a person’s family experience or upbringing.

By middle age, choices made by couples — including those linked to diet and exercise — have a much greater impact than the lifestyle each shared with siblings and parents growing up, say researchers.

Although by middle age siblings have a shared risk of being obese, investigators believe this is mostly attributable to their shared genetic inheritance rather than any habits instilled during their shared upbringing.

University of Edinburgh researchers believe the study will help scientists better understand links between obesity, genetics, and lifestyle habits.

Investigators say the study reinforces the message that lifestyle changes in adulthood can have a significant impact in tackling obesity, regardless of a person’s genetic profile.

For the study, investigators analyzed data provided by 20,000 people from Scottish families. They compared people’s family genetics and home environments in childhood and adulthood as related to adult health and obesity.

A total of 16 measures were considered including, waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, body fat content, and body mass index.

The information was originally gathered as part of the Generation Scotland project — a national resource of health data that helps researchers to investigate genetic links to health conditions.

The study appears in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh led the study.

“Although genetics accounts for a significant proportion of the variation between people, our study has shown that the environment you share with your partner in adulthood also influences whether you become obese and this is more important than your upbringing,” Haley said.

“The findings also show that even people who come from families with a history of obesity can reduce their risk by changing their lifestyle habits.”

Source: University of Edinburgh/EurekAlert
Couple done exercising photo by shutterstock.

Partner and Lifestyle Choices Impact Obesity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Partner and Lifestyle Choices Impact Obesity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 23 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.