Getting hitched could help middle-aged and older folks get a better handle on their blood sugar, a new study reports.
People living with a spouse appeared to be better able to maintain lower blood sugar levels than single folks, according to the findings.
This benefit held regardless of the state of their relationship, the researchers added. Whether bickering or snuggling, married folks tended to have better blood sugar control.
For the study, the investigators evaluated data from more than 3,300 people aged 50 to 89 living in England between 2004 and 2013.
The people did not have diabetes, but they did have blood samples taken to test their average blood sugar levels. They also were asked if they were married or living with someone, and answered questions designed to measure how well they got along in their relationship.
Married or cohabiting people tended to have a 0.21% decrease in blood sugar levels compared to singles, the researchers found.
If applied to the general population, such a decrease would result in 25% fewer deaths related to high blood sugar levels, the study authors said.
The amount of strain in the relationship did not appear to affect the benefit in blood sugar control, according to the report published online Feb. 6 in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
But if the couple broke up, their blood sugar levels suffered, the study found.
“Increased support for older adults who are experiencing the loss of a marital/cohabitating relationship through divorce or bereavement, as well as the dismantling of negative stereotypes around romantic relationships in later life, may be starting points for addressing health risks, more specifically deteriorating glycemic regulation, associated with marital transitions in older adults,” according to study authors Dr. Katherine Ford of Carleton University in Ottawa, and Annie Robitaille of the University of Ottawa, in Canada.
The researchers added in a journal news release that they did not find an association between marital status and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, despite their findings regarding blood sugar.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about managing blood sugar levels.
SOURCE: BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, news release, Feb. 6, 2023
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