ripple effect workplace wellness

“Ripple Effect”: How Weight Management Works With Others

It’s called the “ripple effect,” and we have reported previously about ways that dieting or exercising with others — particularly spouses — can inspire.

In terms of physical fitness,  a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that “if one spouse improves his or her exercise regimen, the other spouse is significantly more likely to follow suit.”

Said Laura Cobb, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health doctoral student and co-author of the research: “When it comes to physical fitness, the best peer pressure to get moving could be coming from the person who sits across from you at the breakfast table. There’s an epidemic of people in this country who don’t get enough exercise and we should harness the power of the couple to ensure people are getting a healthy amount of physical activity.”

Partnership — or “Ripple” — Effect

This partnership effect can be part of a well-run workplace wellness program, as well. While clearly the relationships are different than having a spouse involved, the colleague support and various engagement techniques can be powerful.

The “Ripple Effect” is examined in a study titled “Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Ripple Effect of a Nationally Available Weight Management Program on Untreated Spouses” and published in Obesity.

The study states: “Weight within couples is highly interdependent. Spouses often enter marriage at a similar weight status and mirror each other’s weight trajectories over time.” However, “it is not known whether ripple effects are produced outside of the highly structured clinical settings that have been studied to date, such as in nationally available programs or self-guided attempts.”

The conclusion: “Evidence of a ripple effect was found in untreated spouses in both formal and self-guided weight management approaches. These data suggest that weight loss can spread within couples, and that widely available lifestyle programs have weight loss effects beyond the treated individual.”