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Will a bad breakup leave you with unwanted pounds?

A woman with a pensive expression and her hand to her mouth.

Nov. 4, 2019—Here's some good news if you've just been dumped. Bad breakups won't necessarily add inches to your waistline—even if you soothe the pain with a brief junk food binge.

To look for a possible connection between breakups and weight gain, researchers asked 581 people if they had recently gone through a breakup—and if so, whether they gained or lost weight within one year of their split. Nearly 63% said their weight didn't change after their relationship ended.

That was such a surprise that the researchers followed up with a more detailed study. This study involved 261 new participants who were asked if they'd experienced a breakup after a long-term relationship, and if so:

  • How committed their relationship was.
  • Who initiated the breakup.
  • Whether they tended to eat emotionally.
  • If their weight changed.

Once again, a breakup usually didn't lead to weight gain. A solid 65% reported no change in weight after a major breakup. The only exception: Women prone to emotional eating did gain weight after a relationship ended. But that wasn't common, according to the researchers.

Still, it may be helpful to get help from a mental health counselor if you're prone to emotional eating, the researchers said.

The research appeared in EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium.

According to the researchers, overeating after a partner abandoned you may have made sense for our ancestors when gathering food was difficult.

But as these findings suggest, that's a survival instinct we've outgrown. While we may drown our sorrows by overeating for a day or two, modern humans don't tend to pack on pounds after a relationship fizzles—even a serious one.

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