Why men put on weight after divorce

It appears divorce can have such a psychological effect on men that it often results in significant weight gain. New research presented at the American Sociological Association annual meeting has shown both marriage and a subsequent break-up can have a considerable impact on the eating habits of both men and women.

Dmitry Tumin, lead author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University - which has roots stretching back to 1870 - found these relationship milestones can act as weight shocks, especially to individuals over the age of 30.

However, while females are more likely to pile on the pounds once they get hitched, males are more prone to gaining weight following a separation.

Mr Tumin noted the effect of marital transitions "clearly" differ by gender, adding: "Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk."

Deanne Jade of the National Centre for Eating Disorders commented: "These findings fly in the face of other stories which suggest that marriage fosters weight gain due to a variety of lifestyle changes.

"The breakdown of any stable relationship and its routines can be testing and individuals respond to stress in different ways, some by overeating, some by being unable to eat; some start drinking, eating away from home and filling up with junk food because they are lonely or, simply have no cooking skills.

"It's not unusual to medicate painful emotions with food and other forms of substance abuse.

"My experience leads me to think that the effect of lifestyle on weight change is socio-economic, or personality rather than gender specific. It may also depend on the level of trauma experienced by the process of separation. However, the study is useful in alerting us to the type of risk that may arise when relationships break down."