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Int J Epidemiol. 2005 Feb;34(1):69-78. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviours in US women.

Author information

1
Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. slee@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Previous studies have indicated that married people have lower mortality and are generally healthier. Most previous studies have been cross-sectional and few studies investigated the effect of marital transition on health. With a prospective design and repeated measures of variables, we sought to analyse the temporal relation between marital transition and change in health behaviours.

METHODS:

We followed up 80 944 women aged 46-71 for 4 years (1992-1996). All information was self-reported. We used multivariate-adjusted linear and logistic regression models to examine the impact of changes in marital status on concomitant changes in health behaviours, controlling for potential confounders and baseline health behaviours.

RESULTS:

Compared with women who remained married, women who divorced/widowed had body mass index (BMI) decreases of 0.65 kg/m(2) (P < 0.001) and 0.44 kg/m(2) (P < 0.001), respectively. Compared with women who remained unmarried, women who remarried had an increase in mean BMI of 0.41 kg/m(2) (P < 0.001). Women who divorced increased physical activity by 1.23 metabolic equivalent hours (MET)/week (P = 0.07) compared with women who stayed married. Among non-smokers and past smokers, women who divorced/widowed had more than a twofold increased risk of relapsing/starting smoking (OR = 2.47, 95% CI: 1.56, 3.89; OR = 2.08, 95% CI: 1.56, 2.76, respectively) than women who stayed married. Divorced and widowed women had decreased vegetable intake relative to women who stayed married (-2.93 servings/week [P < 0.001] and -1.67 servings/week [P < 0.001], respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

These patterns suggest both health-damaging and health-promoting changes accompanying divorce and widowhood, and generally health-promoting changes following remarriage.

PMID:
15231759
DOI:
10.1093/ije/dyh258
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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