Assortative marriages by body mass index have increased simultaneously with the obesity epidemic
Most work on the genetics of relative weight has not considered the role of assortative mating, i.e., mate selection based on similarity between mates. We investigated the extent to which engaged men and women in an archival longitudinal database were similar to each other in relative body weight prior to marriage and cohabitation. After controlling for age, a small but statistically significant mate correlation was found for relative weight (r=.13, p=.023), indicating some assortative mating. Furthermore, we examined whether mate similarity in relative weight prior to marriage predicts survival of the marriage. No significant effects were found. In sum, these results are consistent with those of other studies in suggesting that there is a small but significant intermate correlation for relative weight. However, they are unique in showing that these results cannot be explained on the basis of (a) cohabitation, (b) age similarity, or (c) selective survival of marriages between couples more similar in relative weight. The implications of these findings for heritability studies, linkage studies, and the estimation of shared environmental effects are discussed.