Impact of Weight Loss on the Family

Research shows that weight loss can have health benefits not only for the person shedding pounds, but also for the whole family.
Impact of Weight Loss on the Family

Research shows that weight loss can provide health benefits not only for the individual working to shed excess pounds but also for the family.

Benefits to the One Losing Weight
Participating in a weight-loss program with a spouse or partner has been shown to increase the effectiveness of the program.1 Specifically, spouse or partner involvement can lead to greater weight loss.2 Participation also fosters a supportive environment.

In one study, those husbands who participated in their wives' weight-loss program were more accurate in observing changes in eating habits and provided greater help compared to non-involved husbands.3

Sustained weight loss has been linked to continued participation in a weight-management program. And researchers have found that the frequency of a person's attendance at such programs is enhanced by being married, among other factors.4

Benefits for Family Members
Being supportive of a spouse's or partner's weight-loss effort can result in health benefits for the person providing the support – even if weight loss is not a goal.

In a study of husbands whose wives were following a low-fat diet as part of a research project, the men were found to eat less butter, margarine, eggs and red meat over a six-month period. The end result was that these men consumed fewer fat calories (as did their wives) than their counterparts who did not have a spouse in the intervention program.5

The positive lifestyle changes necessary for sustained weight loss are more likely to occur if they are undertaken in a family-oriented approach. In one study working to improve the eating and exercise patterns in Mexican-American families, the greatest improvement (i.e., weight loss) was seen when education was provided in a group setting that included all family members.6

View footnotes

The Weight Watchers Approach:

Making the lifestyle modifications that are necessary for lasting weight loss is what Weight Watchers is all about. The wise food choices, regular physical activity and positive thinking skills that are integral to Weight Watchers are enhanced when family members join in. And a home environment that embraces the principle of healthy living makes successful weight management more attainable for everyone that lives there.

This content is reviewed regularly. Last updated November 12, 2012.


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1Black DR, Gleser LJ, Kooyers KJ. A meta-analytic evaluation of couples weight-loss programs.Health Psychol. 1990;9(3):330-47.

2McLean N, Griffin S, Toney K, Hardeman W. Family involvement in weight control, weight maintenance and weight-loss interventions: a systematic reviews of randomized trials. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Sep;27(9):987-1005.

3Rosenthal B, Allen GJ, Winter C. Husband involvement in the behavioral treatment of overweight women: initial effects and long-term follow-up. Int J Obes. 1980;4(2):165-73.

4Fitzwater SL, Weinsier RL, Wooldridge NH, Birch R, Lui C, Bartolucci AA. Evaluation of long-term weight changes after a multidisciplinary weight control program.J AM Diet Assoc. 1991 Apr;91(4):421-6,429.

5White E, Hurlich M, Thompson RS, Woods MN, Henderson MN, Urban N, Kristal A. Dietary changes among husbands of participants in a low-fat dietary intervention. Am J Prev Med. 1991 Sept-Oct;7(5):319-25.

6Foreyt JP, Ramirez AG, Cousns JH. Cuidando El Corazon – a weight-reduction intervention for Mexican Americans. 1991 Jun;53(6 Suppl):1639S-1641S.