MARRIAGE: A Risk Factor For Diabetes?

diabetes and marriage

Marriage: A Risk Factor for Diabetes?
Authored by Stephanie McClain Riddle PharmD

A positive family history of diabetes is important information for people at risk of developing either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. A family history of diabetes refers to the genetics involved with biological relatives, usually first degree, such as a parent or sibling, but not spouses or family members related to a person by marriage. So how does marriage enter into the risk equation?

According to the American Diabetic Association, it takes more than genetics to reach the diagnosis of diabetes, but the genetics clearly contribute to the predisposition for the development of the disease. Genetics play a role in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but research suggests a stronger genetic influence in the development of type 2 diabetes. But that still does not explain the marriage link.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download

A study, published in January 2014 in BMC Medicine, reviewed data collected from over 75,000 couples. The analysis of the research showed an increase in risk for the development of type 2 diabetes in the spouses of patients that already had that diagnosis. Overall, the research revealed a 26% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes if the marriage partner was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Major contributing factors to the development of type 2 diabetes involve behavioral and environmental influences. These influences include eating patterns and dietary habits, being obese or overweight, and the lack of exercise or physical activity routines. Married couples tend to influence one another on these matters.

Type 1 diabetes is best described as the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, therefore insulin is given by some other manner, usually by subcutaneously injection, making these patients insulin dependent. Type 2 diabetic patients have some pancreatic insulin production, though usually greatly reduced, and are often referred to as insulin-resistant. Type 2 diabetics are usually treated with oral medications, changes in diet to encourage weight reduction, and increasing or beginning routine physical activity. In many cases, insulin is eventually needed by those patients diagnosed as type 2.

Physicians are encouraged to evaluate the spouse when newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics are beginning their treatment. This has not been common practice, and more research is needed to determine the cost-effectiveness and clinical benefit of this type of assessment as routine physician practice. Clinicians and physicians can motivate families to work together regarding dietary habits and exercise routines to aid in establishing type 2 diabetic prevention strategies.

If you, or your spouse, is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, think about the behavioral and environmental influences you share as a married couple. Consider follow up with a physician if either of you continue to be overweight, and tend to continue with a less physically active, and more sedentary lifestyle.

More information about the author can be found at