Why you and your partner may share the same diabetes risk

Why you and your partner may share the same diabetes risk

In a new study, Danish researchers find a connection between the BMI of one spouse and the other spouse’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This means it can be a good idea to bring your spouse to a GP medical examination if you are obese.

In the UK, it is estimated that five million Britons have a high risk of developing diabetes.

On a global scale, 422 million adults have diabetes according to WHO. And it is estimated 1,5 million deaths are caused by the disease.

Previous studies show that spouses are often similar in terms of body weight, among other things because people often marry someone similar to themselves and often share dietary and exercise habits when living together.

Therefore, the researchers also examined whether the heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes of an obese woman, for example, was merely a result of her own body weight.

They examined data from 3,649 men and 3,478 women from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in the UK.

They found that a man, whose wife had a BMI of 30 kg/m2, had a 21-per cent higher risk of developing diabetes than men whose wives had a BMI of 25 kg/m2 — regardless of the man’s own BMI.

But the researchers have not examined why only the men still had a heightened risk after own weight adjustment. They do have a theory, though, which involves who is in charge of the household.

Diabetes can cause complications and serious sequelae such as damage to the heart, kidneys and eyes.

According to the Danish Diabetes Association, 35 per cent experience complications by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes. Therefore, early detection is vital.

If type 2 diabetes is detected at an early stage, medical treatment can be postponed, and instead the patient can begin with lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and doing more physical exercise.

Based on the study, Jannie Nielsen believes that early detection of type 2 diabetes can be improved if we change our approach to the disease.

The study is conducted by the Departments of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University.

Postdoc Jannie Nielsen is the first author of the study.

The study is published in the scientific journal Diabetologia.

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reference: Jannie Nielsen, et al. Spousal cardiometabolic risk factors and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a prospective analysis from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Diabetologia, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-018-4587-1