One Quirk in Couples Health Study Is a Surprise

Cohabitating pairs have lower blood sugar levels, whether they get along or not
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2023 8:50 AM CST
Having a Partner May Help Your Blood Sugar
   (Getty / dmbaker)

Living with a partner might help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels, a new study suggests. But the more surprising part of the research is that it doesn't seem to matter if you and your partner get along, reports the Guardian. The study in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that cohabitating couples had lower blood sugar levels and thus a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, per Neuroscience News. That part adds to previous research suggesting that social isolation, particularly later in life, can have debilitating health effects.

However, "it was unexpected that spousal strain and support did not bear on average blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Katherine Ford of Carleton University in Ottawa, the lead author of the study. Her team analyzed data from 3,335 adults ages 50 to 89 from 2004 to 2013 who had no previous history of diabetes. “For those that transitioned out of a marriage or cohabiting partnership, their average blood sugar levels were worse after controlling for a number of factors,” says Ford. Those who maintained the best levels lived with another person, "suggesting that having a supportive or strained relationship was less important than just having a relationship at all," per the Guardian.

This was an observational study, meaning researchers can't say definitively that cohabitation is the reason behind the lower blood sugar levels, only that the connection exists, notes Healthline. What's more, people who were previously single saw their blood sugar levels improve after they partnered up. “Two takeaway messages are to be aware that average blood sugar levels could potentially worsen for older adults experiencing the loss of a marital or cohabiting partnership, and that finding a new romantic partner among single older adults who wish to do so may be good for their average blood sugar levels,” says Ford. (More discoveries stories.)

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