As if your spouse wasn’t already the cause of so many of your health problems, studies now show that they may be the reason you are getting fat and sick.
Back in 2014, the National Institute of Health determined that 2 in 3 American adults are either overweight or obese. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans suffer from diabetes. Both rates being high is no coincidence, as there is a direct correlation between being overweight and having type II diabetes.
There are certain trends in our culture that encourage overeating and unhealthy habits. We have a fast food restaurant on every corner, our meal sizes are 3x larger than those in other countries, and there is a direct correlation between poverty and junk food. If you are barely making ends meet paying rent and taking care of your kids, you certainly aren’t shopping at Whole Foods and buying the gluten-free, all-natural diet bars.
Sadly, these are all fairly obvious cause-and-effects of which most of us are aware. But what you may not be aware of is that you probably need not look any further than the other side of your couch to find the real culprit behind your health issues: your spouse.
In 2017, a new study by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes reported findings that the number one risk factor for type II diabetes in men is their partner’s weight.
Adam Hulman, head author at Aarhus University in Denmark, who spearheaded the study, took 3,500 middle-aged, heterosexual British couples and tracked their weight and health every 2 and a half years for seventeen years. For every time a wife’s BMI increased five intervals, her husband saw a 21% jump in risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For some reason, the reverse wasn’t true, meaning a woman’s chance at diabetes didn’t increase as her husband gained weight. Researchers couldn’t say for sure why it wasn’t true in reverse, but they had some ideas.
It’s not much of a surprise that there would be a correlation between how your spouse looks and feels and how YOU look and feel. When you spend a great deal of time around someone, it’s only natural to adopt some of their bad habits, like drinking too much, eating unhealthy foods, not wanting to go to the gym, and spending too much time in front of the TV. All of these things result in weight gain and putting your loved one at risk.
Hulman’s group had a theory as to why men were developing type 2 diabetes in correlation with a weight increase by their wives (but not the other way around). Hulman surmised that the results could stem from the fact that, more often than not, the woman of the household usually takes on the responsibility of buying groceries and preparing meals – thus controlling what the family is consuming. Hulman’s theory – though interesting – probably doesn’t sit well with many women.
If you’re married, it’s very unlikely that the family will all take the time to make separate meals for separate preferences. This means that if one person in the household has a weight problem, it’s very likely the rest do.
Again, while Hulman’s research may be obvious to some, it certainly is a reminder for everyone to reevaluate how you treat your bodies – and how this can influence those around you. Just as you need to be mentally and emotionally healthy to be a solid support system for your spouse, this is also true of your physical health.
While this research may have you feeling a bit deflated, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s true that a person is likely to adopt bad habits of a partner, they are also just as likely to adopt good habits.
Think of it this way: if you have been looking to get healthier and lose some weight, what better motivation is there than helping to ensure your partner gets healthy, too?