Women who love their food could pose a risk to their husband’s health, research suggests.
Middle-aged men with obese wives are significantly more likely to develop type two diabetes than those with slimmer partners, scientists discovered.
A study of more than 3,500 couples reveals a direct correlation between the weight of a woman and her husband’s health.
The reverse is not true however, with overweight husbands having no impact on their wives’ chance of developing the condition.
Scientists interviewed English couples over the age of 50 every two and a half years, between 1998 and 2015, tracking their weight and health for around 11 years.
They found that each woman’s weight at the beginning of the study was a strong predictor of her husband’s chances of developing type two diabetes, irrespective of his own weight.
For every five additional points a woman scored on the body mass index scale, her husband was 21 per cent more likely to develop type two diabetes, regardless of his weight to begin with.
Scientists suspect shared lifestyle such as poor diet and lack of exercise is to blame, with obese women influencing their husband’s eating and activity patterns.
But the fact men do not impact their wives’ health suggest women have a much bigger influence on their husband’s lifestyle than men do on their wives.
This may be because women are more likely to cook their husbands’ meals, although experts stress the people assessed were middle-aged couples, so the same may not be true of younger groups.
Others said women may simply be more conscious of their appearance – making them more resistant to following their husbands’ lead.
Presenting their results to the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Portugal, the Danish researchers said men with overweight wives should be screened for diabetes. Led by Adam Hulman of Aarhus University, they said: ‘This is the first study investigating the sex-specific effect of spousal obesity on diabetes risk.
‘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.
‘Obesity or type two diabetes in one spouse may serve as a prompt for diabetes screening and regular weight checks in the other.’