There is a new way to lose weight without really trying, or even going on a proper diet.
Just gently suggest to your partner that they could do with losing a few pounds, then reap the benefits as they shift the pounds.
Being in a relationship with someone who is going to a slimming class or following a diet can help to lose more than four pounds in six months, a study has found.
When one member of a couple starts eating healthily and watching their weight, the other appears to benefit from the change in lifestyle.
Researchers studied if a one partner’s healthy diet and exercising could have a ripple effect on their significant other. The study, created by the University of Connecticut, found partners did slim down at the same time (stock photo)
Researchers at the University of Connecticut tracked the weight loss progress of 130 couples over six months, in which just one person had been given a weight loss strategy.
Their partners slimmed down at the same time, losing approximately three per cent of their body weight.
Lead author Professor Amy Gorin, a behavioural psychologist, said there had been a ‘ripple effect’, adding: ‘When one person changes their behaviour, the people around them change.’
She said: ‘How we change our eating and exercise habits can affect others in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, spouses might emulate their partner’s behaviours and join them in counting calories, weighing themselves more often, and eating lower-fat foods.’
Around a third of partners in the study lost weight after six months, despite not actively slimming themselves.
The average weight loss was three per cent of their weight, which experts see as providing a measurable benefit for being more healthy.
The 130 couples were divided into two groups, with one partner in each pair either enrolled in slimming classes or given a four-page leaflet containing detailed advice on how to lose weight.
In both groups the person not trying to lose weight also did so. These partners lost an average of almost three pounds (1.3kg) after three months and 4.5 pounds (2.02kg) after six months.
The study found one third of partners lost weight despite not actively slimming themselves (stock photo)
Their weight loss did not substantially vary based on whether their partner was using the leaflet or slimming classes.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Obesity, also found that the rate at which couples lose weight is linked. If one person lost weight at a steady pace, their partner did too. Likewise, if one person struggled to lose weight, their partner also had difficulties.
Previous findings of a weight loss ripple effect have been limited to patients based in clinics rather than the real world, or those who have had gastric surgery to quickly lose a great deal of weight.
Most of those studies relied on couples self-reporting their weight loss, raising the possibility of error.
The latest study, funded by slimming firm Weight Watchers International, saw researchers measure couples, most of whom were married, to judge their weight loss over times.
Dr Gorin said: ‘Whether the patient works with their healthcare provider, joins a community-based, lifestyle approach like Weight Watchers, or tries to lose weight on their own, their new healthy behaviours can benefit others in their lives.
Researchers now want to know if slimming helps other members of a household, such as someone’s children, and are planning a follow-up study.
People enrolled in six months of slimming classes lost nine and a half pounds (4.31kg) on average, while their partners lost an average of 4.8 pounds (2.16kg).
Those given the weight loss leaflet lost an average of 6.8 pounds (3.08kg), while their partners lost 4.1 pounds (1.88kg).