Tired of nagging your spouse to lose a few pounds? You might get better results by going on a diet yourself.

Health experts have seen that the weight status of couples tends to move in sync. In fact, researchers have found that if one half a couple becomes obese, the risk that the other will follow suit rises by 37 percent.

There are signs that the reverse is true as well. A long-term study in England suggests that when one spouse loses weight, a “ripple effect” extends to the other spouse. Another study of bariatric surgery patients found that nearly two-thirds of their spouses were lighter a year after the procedure, with a median weight loss of just under 3 pounds.

In the latest study led by psychologist Amy Gorin of the University of Connecticut, couples were randomly assigned to either a free six-month membership to an organized weight loss program or given a simple four-page handout with information about exercise and healthy eating.

In both groups, the partners who actively participated in a guided weight-loss program generally succeeded in losing weight. For the people who weren’t actively trying to lose weight — but did so anyway — it didn’t matter which system their partner was using. Nor did it matter if they were male or female. The results published in the journal Obesity bolster the case that couples have a significant influence on each others’ weight — for good or for bad.

Los Angeles Times