What you didn’t know you learned in college -The order effect of marriage and education

Ample research has indicated a positive relationship between weight gain and marriage, as well as a negative relationship between obesity and the earning of a college degree. However, findings from a recent study add a puzzling contribution to the proposed effect of these factors; it indicates that the order in which people go about college and marriage matters.

The researchers investigated data from 1400 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that collected data between 1995 and 2008. Participant’s BMI, marriage records, and education level were examined at various time points. The findings suggest that getting married before earning a college degree may increase the risk of obesity by 50%, compared to those who completed a degree and later got married.

In order to be able to argue that the marriage timing had an effect on weight gain, the participants’ parents’ socioeconomic status was controlled for, as well as their BMI before reaching college age. Thus, the observed differences between the groups cannot be attributed to these pre existing factors.

How can the order a person go about marriage and college have an effect on the risk of obesity, you might wonder? The researchers hypothesize that it may be the critical thinking skills that people usually acquire when attending college that may make it easier for them to manage weight under changing circumstances, as well as the probable differences in salaries between the groups that make those with college degrees more likely to be able to afford buying healthy food.

“People who earn a college degree before getting married are more likely to have developed problem-solving skills that allow them to overcome obstacles that may prevent them from exercising and eating healthy as they adjust to married life,” said Richard Allen Miech, one of the main researchers of the study. “On the other hand, our research suggests that people who earn a college degree after marrying may have established exercise and diet habits that are more difficult to change later.”

As stated in the article, these findings emphasize the difficulty of staying healthy in today’s society, as the findings suggest that you may even need to use critical thinking skills in order to avoid the various food temptations and other external cues that may probe you into the direction of eating unhealthy.

Read more about this interesting relationship here!