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J Epidemiol Community Health 59:56-62 doi:10.1136/jech.2004.020073
  • Research report

Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviours in US male health professionals

  1. Patricia Mona Eng1,
  2. Ichiro Kawachi2,
  3. Garrett Fitzmaurice3,
  4. Eric B Rimm4
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
  2. 2Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
  3. 3Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
  4. 4Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P M Eng
 Ingenix Epidemiology, 275 Grove Street, Auburndale, MA 02466, USA; mengepidemiology.com
  • Accepted 2 March 2004

Abstract

Study objective: To examine the effect of change in marital status on health behaviours among men.

Design: Longitudinal study of repeated measures of marital status and health behaviours collected at four year intervals (1986–90; 1990–94).

Setting: US male health professionals.

Participants: 38 865 men aged 40–75 in 1986.

Main results: Relative to men who stayed married over four years, men who became widowed increased their alcohol consumption. Men who become divorced or widowed experienced decreases in body mass index. Compared with men who remained unmarried, men who remarried exhibited increases in body mass index along with decreased physical activity. Becoming divorced or widowed was associated with decreased vegetable intake while remarriage was linked to greater consumption.

Conclusions: Marital termination may adversely affect health and dietary behaviours among men.

Footnotes

  • Funding: this study was supported by research grants HL 35464 and CA 55075 from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.