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October 2018

Love, Marriage, and Diabetes Risk

Married couples share more than just a fight for the covers. One study shows that they also share a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

For the study, more than 7,000 people provided information about their own and their spouse’s health. The researchers found they could predict someone’s risk of having type 2 diabetes from his or her partner’s body mass index—a number used to screen for weight categories, such as overweight and obese.

Wait, what? Your risk for diabetes is related not only to your own weight but also to your partner’s weight? How can that be?

In sickness and in health

Spouses tend to pick up each other’s habits over time. And it doesn’t stop with wearing matching shirts and finishing each other’s sentences. They also begin copying each other’s eating and exercise habits, for better or for worse.

If one partner binge-watches a whole season of The Walking Dead, the other is probably sitting there with the popcorn bowl. However, if one partner makes a habit of going for walks and bike rides, those good habits can rub off on the other as well.

Are either of you at risk?

Things that increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being age 45 or older

  • Having a close relative with type 2 diabetes

  • Being overweight

  • Being physically inactive

  • Having high blood pressure

If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. Make sure that your partner does the same.

Team up to get healthier

To lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes:

  • Cook more meals together. Cooking at home helps you eat healthier and save money—and cooking is a lot more enjoyable with company in the kitchen.

  • Make fitness-oriented plans. Go hiking, biking, or dancing. Sign up for a shared personal trainer session or exercise class.

Celebrate successes as a couple. If one of you hits a weight-loss or fitness goal, both of you get a (nonfood) treat. Ta-da! You just doubled your motivation.


Check it out

Assess your and your partner’s diabetes risk here.

Online Medical Reviewer: Gonnella, Joseph, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/30/2018
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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