'Men tend to stick at diets for much longer. It would seem women are more likely to give in to their cravings.'

London - When it comes to the challenge of losing weight, there’s nothing like having the backing and support of a loving partner.

But it turns out the best way for a wife to persuade her husband to shed a few pounds may be to nag him about it as well.

Research shows some men are much more likely to lose weight if their other halves criticise, confront and reject them, rather than offer sugar-coated encouragement.

Researchers who studied how couples support each other in the battle of the bulge found men who lacked motivation to diet and exercise got much better results if their wives gave them a hard time over it.

But the same approach does not work for women, it appears.

Researchers found women regularly criticised by their partner for gaining extra pounds were unlikely to take action.

Psychologists in the US said the reason may be that women already faced intense pressure from society to remain slim. If they have not already been prompted to do something about their weight, a few harsh words from their husband is unlikely to make much difference.

Dr Ann Thomas, a London-based psychologist who specialises in relationship counselling, said men may respond more to criticism because they had more of a need to be sexually desirable to their partners.

She added: “When it comes to looks, women tend to be more responsive to what their friends think than their partners.

“They say women dress for other women because they are in competition. If their husbands say they are looking a bit porky, the chances are they already know that and have worked through their feelings about it.”

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Family Psychology. - Daily Mail