Richard Stuart and Barbara Jacobson received 24,789 replies to the two different questionnaires they ran in Weight Watchers magazine in 1983 and 1984. These respondents, they warn, are not a random sample of American women. For one thing, they are more likely to be overweight. For another, they are more likely to be concerned about those excess pounds. Finally, they are likely to have been members of a commercial weight loss program.

According to their data -- most of which is not in their book, Weight, Sex and Marriage -- the average respondent weighed 166.4 pounds, while her husband weighed 188.4. Put another way, the women were 32.1 pounds above their expected weight; the men, 18.5.

When it comes to eating habits, 13.5 percent of the women said they were always dieting. Nearly half -- 49.1 percent -- tried six or more diets a year. Of this last group, only one in 10 said she was successful in losing at least 10 pounds even once.

One survey response was especially intriguing. Wives who rated their marriages as "perfect/extremely happy" gained an average of only 18.4 pounds since the wedding, and said their husbands had put on 19.1 pounds. At the other end of the scale, wives who rated their marriages as "fairly/extremely unhappy" had taken on an additional 42.6 pounds while married. Their husbands, meanwhile, were 38.6 pounds heavier. Conclude the authors: "Men and women are equally prone to look in the pantry for satisfactions lacking in their marriage."