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In a longitudinal population-based study of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) in early adulthood and marital status at 40 years of age, obese men were half as likely to be married compared with men of normal weight. Significant associations between obesity and marital status among men in a longitudinal setting are novel findings.
The study cohort comprised Swedish men born from 1951 to 1961. Height and weight at age 18 was gathered from the Military Service Conscription Register and information on marital status at 40 years of age was obtained from population registers by record-linkage using the unique personal identification number. The odds ratio (OR) for being married was calculated by polytomous logistic regression analysis adjusting for birth year, intellectual performance, education, country of birth, residential area, socioeconomic position in childhood and adulthood, parental education and muscle strength.
Our study included 486 599 Swedish men. Young men who were obese (BMI≥30.0) at 18 years of age had an OR of 0.49 (95% CI: 0.46–0.52) for being married at 40 years of age compared to normal weight men (BMI: 18.5–24.9). Underweight men (BMI≤18.5) had an OR of 0.84 (0.82–0.86) and overweight men (BMI: 25.0–29.9) had an OR of 0.83 (0.80–0.85) for being married at 40 years of age.
Underweight, overweight and obese men were less likely to be married than their normal weight counterparts. Obese men had the lowest likelihood of being married. Stigmatization and discrimination may partly explain these findings, but further research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.