2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
There are many factors and qualities one looks for when selecting a romantic partner; physical appearance (specifically body type) is recognized as an important trait. The correlation between Body Mass Index (BMI) and Relationship Status was investigated in 223 students at the University of Kentucky. Participants included 124 males (average age 19.97 ± 1.56 years) and 98 females (average age 19.91 ± 1.91 years) who completed surveys regarding their relationship status, BMI, relationship satisfaction, and self-perception questions. Thirty eight percent of the 223 students stated that they were in an exclusive relationship. It was found that the average BMI for students in a relationship was 23.39 ±3.86 and the average BMI for single students was 24.10 ±4.65 (p=0.22). It was found that both males and females with a higher BMI were less likely to be in relationship. The average BMI for males in a relationship was 25.20 (±3.95) and the average BMI for single males was 25.46 ±4.88. The average BMI for females in a relationship was 21.50 ±2.72 and the average BMI for single females was 22.23 ±3.58.
Relationship satisfaction was ranked by the students in a relationship. Those that had been told by their partner to gain or lose weight reported higher relationship satisfaction levels than those who had not been told to gain or lose weight. Students that had told their partner to gain or lose weight reported a lower satisfaction level than those who had not told their partner to. For those in a relationship, only 6% had been told by their partner that they needed to gain or lose weight and their average relationship satisfaction was a 1.2 compared to those who had not been told to gain or lose at a 2.01. On the other hand, 14% of those in a relationship had told their partner that they needed to gain or lose weight and had an average relationship satisfaction level of 2, compared to those that had never told their partner that they needed to gain or lose weight having an average relationship satisfaction of 1.95.
Research on the correlation between BMI and Relationship Status could be useful in psychological studies that look at obesity and interpersonal relationships, and factors when choosing a romantic partner is important because it investigates the effect of obesity on self esteem, and relationship satisfaction.