“Clinicians and health systems should help family members take advantage of this opportunity to make lasting changes,” she added.
Diabetes affects 29 million people in the United States, the researchers said. Most have type 2 diabetes, a condition linked to excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle.
One of the cornerstones of type 2 diabetes management is healthy lifestyle changes, often with medication. People with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to improve their diet, increase their physical activity levels and, if they smoke, to quit, the researchers said.
Partners and children of people with type 2 diabetes may also be at increased risk of the disease due to genetics and shared lifestyle habits, the study team noted.
The study looked at nearly 181,000 couples in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California health plan. The researchers compared couples with a new diagnosis of diabetes in one partner with couples who didn’t have diabetes.