Cohabiting adults have lower blood sugar levels, study finds

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Couples blood sugar levels

Researchers say couples need not get along to benefit, and social isolation may increase type 2 diabetes risk

There are various benefits to being in a relationship – but did you know that lowered risk of diabetes was one of them? Although this study appears to be scientifically robust, it shows that being in a relationship may be protective against type 2 diabetes, whether or not the relationship is harmonious. Given that there are disadvantages to being in an unhappy relationship, such as poorer mental health outcomes, we’re not sure this is a good enough reason to stick around if the love is gone. But it is interesting so we thought we would share it.

Reprinted from the Guardian, by Rachel Hall – 2023-02-06

People who cohabit with a partner have lower blood sugar levels, even if they do not get along with them, according to a study that warns social isolation may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers believe that living with someone is an important source of social support for adults in mid to later life, according to the study published in the British Medical Journal’s diabetes journal. They found the effects were the same regardless of whether the relationship was harmonious or acrimonious.

The lead author, Katherine Ford, formerly of the University of Luxembourg and now at Carleton University in Ottawa, said: “Increased support for older adults who are experiencing the loss of a marital/cohabitating relationship through divorce or bereavement, as well as the dismantling of negative stereotypes around romantic relationships in later life, may be starting points for addressing health risks, more specifically deteriorating glycemic regulation, associated with marital transitions in older adults.”

Participants gave blood samples to measure their average glycaemic or blood glucose levels, and were asked whether they had a husband, wife or partner with whom they lived, along with questions to measure if the relationship was supportive or strained.

Information on several factors was also gathered such as details about age, income, employment, smoking, being physically active, depression, body mass index, and having other social relationship types in their social network (child, other immediate family, friend).

The study also tested the odds of prediabetes, which were lower among those who were married or cohabiting.

Surprisingly, the quality of the relationship did not make a significant difference to the average levels of blood glucose, suggesting that having a supportive or strained relationship was less important than just having a relationship at all.

As an observational study, the researchers said they were unable to establish cause, or, for example, whether people in worse health were more likely to get divorced.

Ford said the researchers treated marriage and a cohabitating partnership as the same, meaning they do not know whether marital status confers any benefits relative to living together. The research also did not explore the benefits of living with a friend or housemate, but Ford suspected that it “would not have the same effect” because housemates don’t necessarily “share in your life”, although she thought living with a friend may have benefits, depending on the closeness of the friendship.


Contact us for more information

If you are about to move in with your partner and would like to draw up a cohabitation agreement, or if you need help with the dissolution of a cohabitative relationship, call Simon today. Cape Town Family Attorneys Simon Dippenaar and Associates Inc. are experts in family law, including cohabitation. We’ll explain your rights and responsibilities and make sure your interests are protected. Contact Simon on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or email contact us.

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