Gain a Spouse, Pack the Pounds

It's one of the happiest moments of your life: tying the knot to the one you love most. But that might mean you'll be loosening the belt too.

In the few short years of marriage, a couple is twice as likely to become obese as are people who are merely dating, according to a new study.

Newly married Pedro Mejia already suspects that his marriage will mean a few more pounds on the scale.

"I am worried," he said. "I'm starting to gain weight already and we just got married."

The idea that couples "let themselves go" after marriage is backed up by mounting evidence. Professor of nutrition Penny Gordon-Larsen from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted the study in the July issue of Obesity, which looked at the romantic partnership and obesity.

"We found that married couples were much more likely to be obese and they were much more likely to watch a lot of television and not engage in enough physical activity, relative to those who were just dating," Gordon-Larsen said.

Then there's this new statistic: Women happen to gain the most weight. Even women just living with their boyfriends have a 63 percent increased risk of obesity.

One year after her wedding, Nancy Putorak went to the doctor who suggested that she "must be very happy."

"I thought that to be a strange comment," Putorak said. "But I said, 'Yes I am.'" Putorak learned she had gained 15 pounds.

Thirty-five years later, the pounds had multiplied for her and husband Marty, who was considered clinically obese. Even their dog Zephyr gained weight.

"I think you're content," Nancy Putorak said. "You're not exercising as much because you're busy working on your marriage."

Professor Amy Gorin of the University of Connecticut psychology department says that marriage can work in your favor.

"If one spouse decides to lose weight and make changes in their eating and exercise, it's likely to have a positive influence on the other spouse," she said.

Since her husband started dieting, Putorak has naturally lost weight too, as did Zephyr.

"She does all the cooking in the house, and we ate 95 percent if not more of our meals at home," Marty Putorak said. "She used ingredients to keep that calorie and fat content down."

The Putoraks are living proof that the vow -- in sickness and in health -- carries some real weight.