An August 2018 survey of 2,000 couples in the United States revealed that getting involved in a relationship can make you fat.

Seventy-nine percent of romantically involved Americans are overweight, having gained an average of 36 pounds since hooking up, OnePoll found when it conducted the research for the Jenny Craig weight-loss program. Seventeen of the extra pounds typically appeared less than a year into a relationship.

Men apparently are more vulnerable than women. Sixty-nine percent of the male survey respondents reported weight gain, compared with 45 percent of the women. Married men had added an average of 22 pounds by their first wedding anniversary, much more than the 13 pounds for married women.

Forty-one percent blamed restaurants for their increased heft, noting that couples often eat out while singles are more likely to dine at home. Busy schedules contribute to the problem. Many people, especially parents, sometimes feel they do not have time to cook. Instead, they eat “junk” food on the run.

In the poll, 34 percent said they packed on “love pounds” because they became less physically active after finding a partner. Thirty percent of married people, and 21 percent of others who were involved with someone, reported having become more comfortable with their weight since entering relationships.

Most said they stopped worrying about it approximately 17 months after giving up the single life. Those between 18 and 24 years old reached the comfort level regarding their weight within an average of 10 months, while it took 18 months for couples between the ages of 45 and 54. The biggest rate of weight gains happened in the fifth year of the respondents’ marriages.

Many people fight the odds by striving to stay fit. Fifty-five percent told the pollsters that they had lost an average of 16 pounds during the previous year. A bit more than half exercised with their mates, 60 percent said they ate nutritious meals as couples, and 40 percent claimed to be doing both.

The survey results suggested that partners who eat right and work out tend to enjoy better relationships. “This data is a clear indicator that couples who support each other in a healthy lifestyle together can reap the benefits of happiness together, as well,” Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told U.S. News & World Report.

She continued: “There are long-term negative side effects of weight gain, but by engaging in healthy habits earlier in your relationship, couples can potentially prevent these problems while also building a strong foundation for optimal health and wellness.”

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows how hard it can be. Keeping fit is especially challenging for women because their metabolisms are slower, so they burn fat at a reduced rate. Discipline is required to adopt a consistent, balanced diet; and engage in regular, daily exercise.

The first step is to avoid high-calorie and high-carbohydrate foods, including those laden with saturated fats; and drinks full of sugar. Many types of snacks have high salt content, which promotes the retention of fluids in the body. Fruit is an excellent snack alternative.

It is not necessary to completely deprive yourself of tasty food. The key is to limit fattening dietary choices to rare occasions and keep portion sizes small. Don’t chow down right before going to bed, because slower metabolism during sleep prompts the body to store fat.

Do eat before shopping for groceries, to deter impulse buying of unhealthy food. Limit the frequency of eating out, because restaurant food is often packed with fats and sugars. Pack a lunch instead.