Birds of a feather flock together, right? Japanese researchers recently found that spouses across the world not only share the same interests and lifestyle habits, but similar medical histories too.
Japanese researchers from the Tohoku University discovered that spouses shared similarities in not only lifestyle habits, but body shape, blood pressure and even incidence of some diseases like diabetes.
It was unsurprising to discover that married couples shared commonalities in their interests and lifestyle habits, said the researchers. “When it comes to marriage, the adage ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is relatively true,” study authors write in a university release.
Researchers observed spousal habits for several cardiometabolic risk factors. Cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs) are a leading cause of death across the globe. They include cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes mellitus and chronic renal failure.
Birds of a feather
Previous studies have indicated that human beings gravitate towards people of similar social class, educational background, race and weight. The scientific name for this is assertive mating, and it means that spouses are often genetically similar. This allows researchers to explore environmental factors in greater detail.
Researchers examined 5 391 pairs from Japan and 28 265 from the Netherlands, drawing on data from the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project, and the Lifelines study in the Netherlands.
Couples from both countries shared similar lifestyle habits and physical traits such as smoking, drinking, weight, abdominal circumference and body mass index.
When the researchers dived further into the data, they determined that couples had corresponding blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Moreover, related incidents of hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome were also found. “Men had increased hypertension risk if their wives had the same disease.”
Many of the correlations were between couples with low genetic similarity and high lifestyle similarity, suggesting the importance of healthy choices.
The researchers encourage healthcare guidance for couples and a healthy dose of competition between partners who encourage each other to improve their health, especially against diseases shaped by lifestyle and environment. They said, “Interventions targeting spouses, rather than individuals, may be more effective.”
So, the next time you go for a check-up, why not bring your partner? Better yet, challenge them to a walk to the clinic!