Researchers have found that health measures such as body mass index, or BMI, and blood pressure can be impacted by changes in marital status in postmenopausal women.
The study analyzed data from more than 79,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative and found a link between marital transitions and changes in health indicators such as waist circumference, BMI and blood pressure, and behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and diet.
Results showed that the BMI of a postmenopausal woman increased with marriage but decreased with divorce. Postmenopausal women who married had an increased level of confidence and alcohol use compared to unmarried postmenopausal women.
Divorce was not only associated with a lower BMI but also a reduction in waist circumference with improvements to diet and increased physical activity.
“These new results are in stark contrast to earlier findings in which marriage has been associated with improved overall health and divorce with higher mortality,” Dr. Susan G. Kornstein, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, president of the Academy of Women’s Health and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Women’s Health, said in a press release.
The study was conducted by Randa Kutob and a team of researchers from the College of Medicine, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Cancer Center of the University of Arizona, Brown University School of Public Health, University of California Davis, University of Texas Health Science Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Iowa College of Public Health.