The Sweet Benefits of Marriage for Diabetes Prevention

 

Studies have shown that married individuals have better health and a lower risk of developing certain health problems, including heart disease and depression. 

In February 2023, a new study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care provided further evidence of the health benefits of marriage, specifically in relation to blood sugar control.

The Importance of Blood Sugar Control in Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels. If left uncontrolled, high blood sugar levels can lead to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, and kidney disease. 

Maintaining good blood sugar control is, therefore, a critical aspect of managing diabetes.

Typically, this involves changes to your diet, increasing physical activity, monitoring your blood sugar levels closely, and possibly taking medication.

Marriage and Blood Sugar Control

The study, conducted using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, found that being married was associated with lower hemoglobin A1c levels.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a measure of average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. It is the most reliable indicator for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. A simple blood test measures the amount of glucose that has attached to hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells) over time. The higher the level of HbA1c, the higher the average blood sugar level has been over the past few months. 

HbA1c levels are expressed as a percentage, and levels above 6.5% are generally considered indicative of diabetes.

Why Does Marriage Help Blood Sugar?

So, why might being married be associated with better blood sugar control? 

It’s not entirely clear, but there are several suspected explanations:

  • Increased Social Support: Having a marital partner may provide individuals with increased social support, which can have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. This support may help individuals better manage their diabetes by providing emotional support, encouragement to follow a healthy lifestyle, and assistance with managing the day-to-day aspects of the disease.
  • Improved Lifestyle Habits: Marital partners may also help each other adopt healthier lifestyle habits, such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. These habits can have a positive impact on blood sugar control, potentially reducing the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
  • Increased Accountability: Being married may also increase an individual’s sense of accountability for their health. They may be more motivated to manage their diabetes and maintain good blood sugar control, as they do not want to burden their marital partner with caring for them in the event of complications.
  • Better Stress Management: Being married may also help individuals better manage stress, which has been shown to have a negative impact on blood sugar control. A partner can provide a source of comfort and support during times of stress, potentially reducing the impact of stress on blood sugar levels.

The Role of Marital Quality

While the study found that being married was associated with better blood sugar control, it did not find a significant relationship between marital quality (as measured by spousal support and spousal strain) and average blood sugar levels. 

This suggests that the simple fact of being married may be more important for blood sugar control than the quality of the marital relationship.

The Sweetness of Marriage

Overall, this study provides interesting insights into the potential health benefits of marriage for individuals with or at risk of developing diabetes. 

While the reasons for this are not entirely clear, the findings of this study provide one more reason to believe in the positive impact of marriage on our health and well-being. 

Whether you’re currently married or looking to tie the knot, it’s clear that having a partner can have a sweet impact on your health.