Why marriage may help prevent type 2 diabetes — regardless of how happy it is

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(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Being married may help prevent type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether the relationship is happy, a study has suggested.

A new study, which looks at blood sugar levels in older people, found that being married or living together helps keep blood sugar levels under control regardless of whether the relationship is happy or under strain.

The research, which was conducted by experts from the University of Luxembourg and the University of Ottawa in Canada, looked at data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing on 3,335 adults aged 50 to 89 who did not have diabetes at the start of the study.

The study asked participants if they had a husband, wife, or partner with whom they lived and were asked questions to examine the level of strain and support within the relationship, as well as measuring their HbA1c (blood glucose) levels.

The data showed that 76 per cent of people in the study were married or living together and found that the quality of the relationship did not make a significant difference to the average levels of blood glucose.

This suggests that having a supportive or strained relationship is less important for preventing type 2 diabetes than being in a relationship at all.

The researchers concluded: “Overall, our results suggested that marital/cohabitating relationships were inversely related to HbA1c levels regardless of dimensions of spousal support or strain.

“Likewise, these relationships appeared to have a protective effect against HbA1c levels above the pre-diabetes threshold.”

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Previous studies have found that marriage has a range of health benefits compared with being single, including longer life, fewer strokes and heart attacks, less depression and healthier eating.

More than 4.9 million people in the UK have diabetes, according to Diabetes UK, with 850,000 people living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

A study by Rutgers University in the US found last year that people who stay up late are at greater risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes due to metabolic differences determined by sleep patterns.

Type 2 diabetes has also been linked to rising rates of depression, particularly among young adults.

Data used in the research published in the journal Diabetologia, found that 43 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes had depression, compared to 29 per cent a decade earlier.