Trying to Lose Weight? Spouses Shed More Pounds Together than Alone

Weight loss is more likely (among heart attack survivors) when partners join in the effort to diet.

Michael Hunter, MD
3 min readOct 3, 2020


Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Lifestyle improvement following a heart attack can reduce the probability of future similar events. Now, researchers from the Netherlands report the results of a randomized clinical trial showing that when spouses come together to change habits, the patient is more likely to achieve success — especially in the weight-loss realm. Perhaps there are clues for those of us trying to lose weight, but who have not suffered a cardiac event.

Previously reported research findings

Let’s begin with what researchers from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences reported historically. The RESPONSE-2 trial discovered the following:

  • Referral for weight reduction, physical activity, and smoking cessation led to a higher probability of positive behavior changes.
  • Living with a partner resulted in more success and changing bad habits.
  • The most success came from combining the two.

New research findings

Here’s what researchers did: They randomized 824 patients to usual care with or without lifestyle programs. The lifestyle intervention targeted weight, physical activity, and smoking. Nearly half of the partners participated in the lifestyle sessions.

Let’s turn to lifestyle programs. For weight reduction, subjects participated in with a Weight Watchers coach for one year. Participants wore an accelerometer to measure activity and had an online coach for personalized feedback for a year. For smoking cessation, subjects had motivational interviewing (by telephone) for three months, in addition to a prescription for either nicotine replacement or a drug (varenicline).

The following happened in the lifestyle management cohort:

  • Patients with a participating partner had a nearly two-and-a-half higher probability of improving in at least one of the three target areas (exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation) within one year.
  • Patients with a participating…



Michael Hunter, MD

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at