Are you, like me, married? Then take heart - and another helping of dessert. Your fat isn't your fault. It's your spouse's.
In one of those ''duh'' kind of moments, a study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concludes that married people and other cohabitating couples are twice as likely to abound chubbily ever after than those who are just dating.
See, the love handles aren't your fault. Science says love really did make the handles.
The researchers found that over the first five years of wedded bliss, ladies run a 63 percent increased risk of unpleasant plumpness.
Guys don't gain as much (after all, I had a head start before nuptialation), but weight gain spikes between years one and two. That means in another month, I better start shopping for a bigger belt. And elastic-waisted trousers.
Hey, don't blame me. It's my newlywed sweetie's fault. Science says so.
The study was conducted by two nutrition epidemiologists. Nah, I don't know what that word means, either. (I've heard of "nutrition'' but never had much interest in looking it up.)
Epidemiology, of course, is the study of the branch of medical science dealing with the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.
You see, for years, we've been told that obesity is a disease. Now we know what causes it - marriage.
Researchers deduce that there are many possible reasons: You caught the guy, so why diet anymore; if you do try, he sabotages your efforts either to make you less attractive to his rivals or to assuage his guilt over sitting in the easy chair instead of the rowing machine; or parents feel obligated to clean up the kids' leftovers.
And of course, there's the, "What? Don't you like my cooking? I fixed this for you, buster, so you better eat and ask for seconds if you know what's good for you!" So I've heard, anyway. I've never had to be threatened into snatching seconds.
Two years ago, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that if your friends and family put on weight, odds are, so will you.
''We were stunned to find that friends who are hundreds of miles away have just as much impact on a person's weight status as friends who are right next door,'' study co-author James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, told The Associated Press.
This proves that fat germs are more powerful than common cold germs. You can't catch a cold over the phone. But apparently, I can catch your fat from miles away.
Fowler tossed in the caveat that "there is a ton of research that suggests that having more friends makes you healthier.''
I told you not to take chances - dump the buddy with the fries fetish and get skinny.
Now I'm shifting my policy for the sake of marriage. I love my wife enough to risk an extra hunk of chocolate cake. Especially if she slathers on the fudge frosting a couple inches thick. One makes certain sacrifices for soul mates.
So if I'm reading this new study right - the parts I read, anyway - the message is clear: If you want more pizza, be like me and get married. Your conscience will thank you. It's science.
----- We think Cole's "science" seems a little uncertain - but he does have a point. And cookies. Send research to email@example.com.