There’s this saying that if you grow fatter in a relationship, it just means your partner makes you happy.
There just might be a shred of truth in that saying. A recent study shows that your shared habits with your partner may have a strong impact on your weight and heath — even more than your habits acquired from your family and siblings during your growing years. And no, this has nothing to do with the pizza you and your main smooch had on that last Netflix marathon, or that low-carb brunch you had with them on your last date.
A group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed data provided by 20,000 Scottish families. A total of 16 measures were considered, including waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, body fat content, and body mass index.
The results? by middle age, the routine a couple shares—including their diet and exercise habits—has a greater impact than the lifestyle they shared with their siblings and parents when growing up.
“Although genetics accounts for a significant proportion of the variation between people, our study has shown the environment you share with your partner in adulthood also influences whether you become obese and this is more important than your upbringing,” says Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit. He led the research and gathered information as part of the Generation Scotland project, a resource of health data to help researchers find the links between obesity, genetics, and lifestyle.
However, don’t fret if you find yourself repeating food choice and exercise patterns with your family that you’d rather leave behind. There’s hope: study findings support the message that lifestyle changes in adulthood may mean that people from families with a history of obesity can still reduce their risk by changing their habits.
In a nutshell: if you’ve got a Bae who’s into eating healthful foods, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and heck yes, great sex, you’re halfway there to better health yourself. All you need do? Get with the program.