Weight loss isn't easy on your own. But with a little help from your friends – or more probably your partner, since most friends are just not that into you – losing weight and keeping it off can be made easier.
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No, it doesn't involve having lots of very vigorous sex – although that will also help you burn calories and generally feel better, so don't let us stop you. But if you have a significant other – or close friend – who's happy to assist in your weight loss journey, recent research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020 states that, "weight loss is most successful... when partners join in the effort to diet.”
It's all about mutual support and healthy eating. Cos that's what friends are for.
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This research was actually carried out on heart attack survivors, so the desired outcome was more serious than just wanting to still wear your old jeans. A total of 824 patients were randomly assigned to either the 'intervention group', which included lifestyle programmes on top of usual care, or the 'control group': people who received the usual care alone. People in the intervention group – 411 people in total – were referred to up to three lifestyle programmes for weight reduction, physical activity, and smoking cessation depending on their needs and preferences.
Partners of patients who were in the intervention group could attend programmes for free and nurses encouraged them to participate too, so there was a bit of social pressure on partners to take part. Nearly half (48%) of partners participated in the lifestyle interventions, although it is worth mentioning that 'partner participation' was defined as attending these programmes at least once.
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The results speak for themselves: "compared to those without a partner, patients with a participating partner were more than twice as likely (odds ratio 2.45) to improve in at least one of the three areas (weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation) within a year." Of the three groups, the most significant results were observed in the 'weight loss' sub-group: "patients with a participating partner were most successful in reducing weight compared to patients without a partner (odds ratio 2.71)."
Study author Ms. Lotte Verweij said, “Couples often have comparable lifestyles and changing habits is difficult when only one person is making the effort. Practical issues come into play, such as grocery shopping, but also psychological challenges, where a supportive partner may help maintain motivation.”
The main takeaway here is to consider the social aspect of dieting as well as the biological one. Going on a special diet often means people will eat different foods at different times, all of which can affect others around them. A supportive partner and social environment could result in a smoother transition to healthier, more balanced lifestyle.