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Appetite. 2011 Dec;57(3):729-42. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.08.007. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

Body weight relationships in early marriage. Weight relevance, weight comparisons, and weight talk.

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Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


This investigation uncovered processes underlying the dynamics of body weight and body image among individuals involved in nascent heterosexual marital relationships in Upstate New York. In-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with 34 informants, 20 women and 14 men, just prior to marriage and again one year later were used to explore continuity and change in cognitive, affective, and behavioral factors relating to body weight and body image at the time of marriage, an important transition in the life course. Three major conceptual themes operated in the process of developing and enacting informants' body weight relationships with their partner: weight relevance, weight comparisons, and weight talk. Weight relevance encompassed the changing significance of weight during early marriage and included attracting and capturing a mate, relaxing about weight, living healthily, and concentrating on weight. Weight comparisons between partners involved weight relativism, weight competition, weight envy, and weight role models. Weight talk employed pragmatic talk, active and passive reassurance, and complaining and critiquing criticism. Concepts emerging from this investigation may be useful in designing future studies of and approaches to managing body weight in adulthood.

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