Married men 'let themselves go'

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Married Australian men are more likely than single blokes to be overweight, a University of Melbourne study has determined.

Researchers analyzed new data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia Survey (HILDA), to assess how social and economic factors affect a person’s weight.

The analysis found that roughly 73% of men deemed to be ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ — based on their Body Mass Index — are married.

Associate Professor Roger Wilkins, from the University's Melbourne Institute, said this compares to just 67% of women in the same weight range.

"It seems likely that married men put on more weight, or 'let themselves go', because they are no longer trying to attract a mate," he said.

Overweight men also take home the largest pay packets, with an average income of about $51,000 p.a., compared with just $48,806 for ‘normal weight’ men and $38,596 for males deemed to be ‘underweight’.

Among females, the highest income earners are ‘normal weight’ women ($49,292).

However, Associate Professor Wilkins said ageing remained the single biggest factor determining weight.

"A person's weight almost invariably increases over time, and rarely decreases" he said.

"That is, once you put on weight, it is hard to take it off again."

The data also found that:

  • Highly educated people are less likely to be overweight.
  • Higher-income women are no more likely to be overweight.
  • A major worsening of finances (such as bankruptcy) leads both men and women to shed weight.
  • Men and women also put on weight if they lose their job.

HILDA is Australia’s only large-scale nationally representative longitudinal household survey.  It uses annual interviews with more than 17,000 Australians to create a detailed picture of how their lives are changing over time. It provides a ‘moving picture’ of emerging issues and trends in Australia. 

The HILDA Survey is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Social Services.

Source: ‘Weight change in individuals over time’ (HILDA Report 2014, Part 4, Chapter 11)