The premise might sound like something out of a science fiction plot, but researchers have found some pretty solid evidence suggesting its truth: you can tell whether a person has a heightened risk for Type 2 diabetes by looking at the BMI (body mass index) of their spouse.
It’s estimated that over 400 million people worldwide have diabetes, which can come with some pretty serious consequences and impacts on both quality and longevity of life. In fact, 1.5 million people die each year due to complications related to the disease. Now, thanks to new research out of the University of Copenhagen, the medical community is learning more about how married couples’ physical (and mental) health is intimately linked — particularly in regards to matters of weight.
If you’re not already aware, being considered ‘obese’ based on your BMI greatly increases your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes; so a good deal of the research in this study focused on partners’ weight. They found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that on the whole married couples tend to have a similar weight. The researchers attribute this to the fact that we tend to marry people like us, in terms of both lifestyle and activity levels. For couples who didn’t have similar body types, the study showed that the wife’s weight in particular was a harbinger for the couple’s overall diabetes risk — in other words, the disease was likelier in obese-woman / normal BMI-man pairings than in normal BMI-woman / obese man pairings.
Diabetes is a nasty disease that affects and degrades so many different parts of the body, including your vision, kidneys, and your heart. Often, the early stages of diabetes will do irreversible damage to the body before the disease is properly diagnosed and treated. Therefore, it’s critical that you get out ahead of Type 2 diabetes and manage it before it’s had a chance to cause further complications.
Of course, the best course of action is to maintain a healthy BMI and active lifestyle, so that you can avoid developing Type 2 diabetes (and other obesity related issues) in the first place. Barring that, if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a doctor, and you know that your weight is at an unhealthy level, it’s important to know that sooner is better when it comes to diabetes treatment. Many consequences of diabetes can be avoided altogether if the patient gets a head start on certain procedures and medications that can keep the disease in check.
Knowing that married couples are joined not just in wedlock, finances, and love — but also health — can be an important realization to keep a healthy household. You and your partner are in this together, and the shared gravity of your lifestyle choices will affect the other person as well as yourself. So, as a team, think of ways to make a healthy change this year so that you can enjoy more time together in good health throughout your lives.