You gotta love the wide-eyed wonder in this study. Women who live with a long-term partner eventually pack on more pounds than women who don't, whether or not they have children. Stop the presses!
The differences, the scientists found, were stark. After adjusting for other variables, the 10-year weight gain for an average 140-pound woman was 20 pounds if she had a baby and a partner, 15 if she had a partner but no baby, and only 11 pounds if she was childless with no partner.
The numbers were obtained by self-reporting, and if bigger people are more apt to understate their weight, as seems likely, it's plausible that the difference is even more pronounced.
The Times spends the whole piece ignoring the, um, elephant in the room, citing experts who suggest explanations that for once seek to turn human fat into something vaguely positive. "Women are more social and therefore eat their fill of large restaurant meals," chirps one. Another crackerjack social scientist offers that
"...getting married or moving in with a partner and having a baby are events that trigger even further weight gain. From a prevention point of view, one can look at these as particular times when women need to be especially careful."
Brilliant analysis, that. Yeah, maybe, in the interest of public health, we ought to "prevent" people from marrying or moving in together. As for the admonition that "women need to be especially careful" during the time they're at risk for weight gain — hey, that happens to be the entire time, possibly many decades, that they live with their long-term boyfriend or their husband. What useless rot.
The socially impolite and admittedly unromantic truth is that in millions upon millions of cases, consciously or not, women and men who move in together have exited the "open market" and as a result give themselves permission to become less attractive. In popular parlance, they "let themselves go." There are well-known websites devoted to the subject; moreover, hundreds of relationship jokes derive their jollies from it.
I guess you'd have to be an ivory-tower dweller — say, a journalist for the world's foremost newspaper, or a politically-correct academic — to successfully pretend you've never even heard of the phenomenon. And you'd have to be a particularly stubborn ass to claim to want to investigate an issue, only to willfully ignore the stares-you-in-the-face explanation that eludes pretty much no one else.