Women Weight Gain
Survey: Why Women Gain Weight

Comfort eating in reaction to stress and boredom, getting married, having babies and becoming less active are the main reasons women put on weight.

Women Putting It On

We asked WLR members which lifestyle factors contributed most to their weight gain in adulthood. Responses showed four main reasons why women put on weight. Here's what they are

Read some of their comments and see if they ring any bells with you.

Stress & Boredom

"Both stress and boredom make me eat, only problem is that if I'm not stressed then I'm bored, so I can't win!" JEANIE

This is not the dilemma it seems. Boredom is stressful! Both are states of discomfort and eating is comforting.

The type of stress suffered by respondents falls into two broad categories.

1. Unhappiness with life in general or reaction to specific problems lead some women to comfort eating

"It's like if I eat something it's comforting and it gives my brain something else to think about." DOWNEYS

"The biggest increases for me were stress - losing job & grandparent & close relative, all in two months." LW

"A lot of problems with partner after getting married and turning to drink, which got sorted out quite a few years ago. Then a neighbour used to come over every night whinging and whining that she had no money, no this, and no that - which turned me back to drink." KATEY

"Mine would have to be boredom and comfort eating, it's easier to buy a chocolate bar than get a life!" DAYBLUE

2. Work, College and long hours.

"When I was a trainee solicitor I was working from 8am until 10pm at the very least, if not until 1am or even 3am. You find that you suddenly get really peckish and you don't have time to run out and get a salad, so if someone is going to the corner shop you ask for sweets, crisps or a mars bar." ODEAYAU

"Working in a stressful environment makes you put on weight. Whether it's through alcohol, or just not having time and energy to take care of yourself." RB

"Had put on 10 stone during the 15 years it took me to retake my GCSEs, do A levels and BA and BSc. It was all the stress of long hours of study, pressure of assignment deadlines, canteens that served chips with everything." WAPPY HIPPY

"The stressful job, with long hours and mostly non-existent lunch breaks which lead to wolfing down whatever I could whenever I could, and of course the couple of wind down drinks in the evening." BAN-ALBANNACH

"After a really long rough day all I want to do is have a good feed with something starchy and washed down with plenty of wine." DEBCLARKE

"The long hours combined with the commuting mean that I can get very tired, and if I get tired I seem to get hungry and don't always make the best choices." WOLF

Perhaps Shazz sums it up best of all.

"Let's face it, life is fattening!" SHAZZ

Having Babies

Whether it's putting too much weight on during pregnancy, or not losing it/adding to it afterwards, having babies, at 32%, was a close runner up to stress and boredom in the weight gain stakes.

"Apart from the obvious physical side of putting on weight when pregnant, afterwards it is difficult to try and build in healthy eating and exercise into a new and hectic routine of having a baby, working full-time and studying part-time." FIDYRO

"I don't think that the health industry does enough to help you get the balance right when you are pregnant, as in both of my experiences when I asked about a healthy plan I was told not to worry about weight as it would come off later. What sort of message is that? Not much help if you ask me" MESI

"The period of time after each of my babies were born. Stuck in the house and with no real routine I just ate for convenience and also out of boredom." KATYB

"With my first, I put on 5 stones (and I'm only 5' 1½). I never managed to lose all of it, only a couple of stone. With my 2nd, I put on about 1.5 stones. I was pregnant last year, (unfortunately miscarried), and put on about 1 stone within 6 weeks! Despite best intentions, you do eat for 2. Plus, once the baby is born, you don't have time to make healthy nutritious meals." DAWN

"Put on 1.5 stones having baby and 3 stones in the year after on top! Oh dear!" LIZ_KINGSHILL

"Lost ½ stone during pregnancy (feelin sick) put 2 stone on after birth cause too lazy/knackered to cook properly" JELLY

Getting Married

Lifestyle changes following marriage or moving in with your partner were the main cause of weight gain for 13% of the women in our survey. More a case of getting too comfortable than comfort eating!

"More nights in, more food, more alcohol etc coupled with not going to the gym, or running as much. Didn't help that I got shin splints and couldn't exercise, but I should have modified my eating at that point but didn't." LAWRANLM

"When I got into a long term relationship, many dates involved food - meals out, drinking, cinema with popcorn & ice cream. I was so comfortable with my man, it didn't seem to matter if I put on a bit of weight." WOODRUL

"Moving in with my boyfriend (now Husband) and at the same time stopping going to the gym - a complete change of routine from being active almost every day to hardly doing anything at all and also going out more (beer, curry....!)." SALLYDRAYTON

"Getting married meant cooking regular meals and evenings at home instead of the skipped meals and more active single life so that was the start. Then 3 children getting heavier with each." SUEREEVES

"I moved in with my partner and started eating meals etc. Until then I had no problems remaining 9 stone and a size 10, then went up to 10 ½ stone. Being content is worst factor for me, and it also happens very slowly." JAY123

Becoming Less Active

The 10% of respondents in our 'Less Active' category don't fully reflect it's impact on weight gain. It was cited as a contributing factor in weight gain by a further 25% of our respondents.

"Was always a skinny teen (8st 7lb) and as I worked fairly locally until age 25, I didn't feel the need to drive. Then work moved 30 miles away so I learned and began driving each day. Due to the time taken to commute, I became less active but still ate the same amount." UKCAT

"Moved from England and had to give up teaching PE (different education system in Scotland) got other qualifications followed by a desk job and from being able to eat everything and remain a beanpole gradually put on weight through not changing my eating habits from when I was always active." ELIZA-B

"Hours of job - meaning lack of exercise, I do longer hours in the summer than in the winter, not until 6.30ish, I then find it hard to go to the gym. In the winter, I finish between 5.00 and 5.30 so no problem in going to the gym and getting home before I'm starving. This means my meal choices are better too. Two gym visits a week in the summer if I'm lucky, practically every day in winter." CLAIREJBROWN

"In my late teens I basically stopped doing anything energetic - as a child I ran round madly all the time!" WOODRUL

None of The Above

Not all of our respondents could be squeezed into the above categories - here's some more interesting comments that may strike a chord with you:

"The principal reason for me putting on weight is/was lack of knowledge. I started to put on weight as many girls around about 16/17/18 because you do less exercise, start going out drinking, but carry on eating as when you were a teenager ... so you start to go on fad diets ... and end up following them, losing weight, then stopping them and putting weight back on because basically you haven't learned how and what to eat." GINGAWAPPIT2 

"I think for me it was puberty! Stop laughing ... Probably a combination of age, hormones & ALSO (perhaps more importantly) the beginning of my choosing what I ate - Teen years saw slow steady 'growth' - almost as though once I stopped growing up, I just continued to grow - but out ... with no adjustment in that 'eat-to-grow' theme. My worst time of the day is still 'after school snack' - & I haven't been in school for nearly 40 years!" CKENGLISH

"When I left home I didn't have a clue about portion control and the weight piled on, I have struggled with it ever since then. I also believe that excess weight is in part genetic, my dad's side of the family are all big." MINDY 

"I am also asthmatic and have had steroids all my life often in large doses. That made me eat, bloat and very rapid large weight gain followed." SEVERN

"An under active thyroid that went undiagnosed for years as the doc refused to believe that I wasn't eating too much." JULIE

Just For Fun - (an aside)

"I've noticed that a lot of respondents have said that having a baby is the trigger for weight gain, and the inability to lose it afterwards. So isn't it doubly annoying when celebs (Liz Hurley, Vicky Beckham, Catherine Z-J, Madonna, etc) have babies, and are back to their pre-baby size? They make me b****y sick!! (Sorry had to have a rant there :-))" DAWN

"Here, here, but have you noticed that they go into hiding as soon as they've had their baby so that they can frantically lose their weight gain. Us normal people are too busy caring for our babies to worry about that!!!!" SHARON BAILEY

Is this you?

Psychologists say that if you can identify the problem, you're half way to finding the solution. If you can identify the reason(s) why you put on weight, you'll be able to start working out strategies to help you lose it.

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