Men living with obese women more likely to get type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on September 15, 2017

Men who have obese wives or partners are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, new research has found, prompting calls from scientists for them to be checked for the condition.

However, women living with overweight men are not at greater risk, according to the first ever sex specific study to investigate the effect of spousal obesity carried out at Aarhus University in the Netherlands.

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The researchers found that men were 21% more likely to become type 2 diabetic, mainly because they share their wives’ poor eating and exercising habits but they are unable to explain why the reverse appears not to be the case.

‘Obesity or type 2 diabetes in one spouse may serve as a prompt for diabetes screening and regular weight checks in the other. In particular, men whose wives are obese may benefit from being followed more closely,’ said lead researcher Dr Adam Hulman.

The research study points out that people who are obese or have a family history of type 2 diabetes are already known to have a much higher risk of the disease but until now, the sex specific effect of spousal obesity beyond the person’s own obesity level on the risk of developing diabetes was unclear.

The team examined 3,650 men and 3,478 women aged 50 or older from a nationally representative sample. The participants were interviewed every two and a half years between 1998 and 2015, and the new case rate for type two diabetes was 12.6 per 1,000 people per year among men and 8.6 among women.

In a further study, the research team examined whether the development of obesity with age was different for people with and without a spouse with type two diabetes in 7,187 men and women.

‘This is the first study investigating the sex-specific effect of spousal obesity on diabetes risk. Having an obese wife increases a man’s risk of diabetes over and above the effect of his own obesity level, while among women, having an obese husband gives no additional diabetes risk beyond that of her own obesity level,’ Hulman explained.

‘Our results indicate that on finding obesity in a person, screening of their spouse for diabetes may be justified. Recognising shared risk between spouses may improve diabetes detection and motivate couples to increase collaborative efforts to eat more healthily and boost their activity levels,’ he pointed out.

‘Obesity or type two diabetes in one spouse may serve as a prompt for diabetes screening and regular weight checks in the other,’ he added.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ivan September 29, 2017 at 8:54 am

Healthy thin people tend to live with thin health people.

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