Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviours in US male health professionals

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Jan;59(1):56-62. doi: 10.1136/jech.2004.020073.


Study objective: To examine the effect of change in marital status on health behaviours among men.

Design: Longitudinal study of repeated measures of marital status and health behaviours collected at four year intervals (1986-90; 1990-94).

Setting: US male health professionals.

Participants: 38 865 men aged 40-75 in 1986.

Main results: Relative to men who stayed married over four years, men who became widowed increased their alcohol consumption. Men who become divorced or widowed experienced decreases in body mass index. Compared with men who remained unmarried, men who remarried exhibited increases in body mass index along with decreased physical activity. Becoming divorced or widowed was associated with decreased vegetable intake while remarriage was linked to greater consumption.

Conclusions: Marital termination may adversely affect health and dietary behaviours among men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Divorce / psychology
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vegetables
  • Widowhood