Live Better

What your relationship status means for your health

MBHI finds a correlation between your relationship status and your health.

Can your relationship status impact your health? It’s complicated. However, the Medibank Better Health Index1 has uncovered some interesting links between the two.

According to our data, Australian singles are the healthiest bunch with an overall Health Index Score of 104.33, compared with 102.46 for couples2. Those who are separated or divorced fared the worst, with an overall Health Index Score of 95.69.

Here are some other ways your relationship status could impact your health.


Good news for singles, who were found to have the lowest average BMI overall at 26.01, followed by 27.45 for couples and 28.16 for those who are divorced or separated. The bad news? All three scores still fall into the overweight range.

Mental health

Despite having the strongest overall health, singles didn’t win the battle across the board.
Couples fared significantly better in mental health, reporting a lower incidence of anxiety, depression and stress. This link between mental health and relationship status is supported by various external studies, including one from the University of Chicago, which reported that committed relationships can actually reduce the production of stress hormones in a person.

Alcohol and smoking

When it comes to our vices, things get interesting. While couples were found to be most likely to have consumed alcohol in the last week (at 61.1%), they were also found to consume the least standard drinks per week on average (10.47 drinks). Put simply, couples are more likely to be drinking, but are drinking less overall. Those who are divorced or separated consumed the most drinks per week on average, at 11.33.

People who are divorced or separated were also found to smoke 3.39 cigarettes per day on average – more than double that of couples, at 1.29 cigarettes. Singles sat in the middle at 1.82 cigarettes smoked per day on average.

So what does this mean?

The exact link between relationship status and health is complex, and to conclusively determine the relationship, many factors need to be considered. For example, factors such as age could impact the data, given younger adults are inherently less likely to suffer from medical issues and are more likely to be single. Nonetheless, it’s worth considering how the company you keep could be impacting your health, whether you’re flying solo, shacked up, or in the ‘it’s complicated’ zone.

1 Covering the period October 2014 – September 2015
2 Includes those who are de facto, engaged and married

Recommended Reading

Health Insights

Can too much stress lead to a bad heart?

The negative effects of constantly being in fight-or-flight. Read more

Health Insights

Medibank trialling haemodialysis in the home

Giving members with chronic kidney disease more choice. Read more

Health Insights

Innovating for members living with chronic disease

CareComplete is supporting members to manage their health. Read more

Health Insights

Medibank’s chemotherapy in the home trial

Working towards more choice over where you get treatment. Read more

Health Insights

How do I know if my child is a healthy weight?

It's not always easy for parents to recognise problems. Read more

Health Insights

Empty Nest Syndrome: what, why and how to cope

When your child moving out affects your mental health. Read more

youtubetwittersign-up-userArtboard Copynp_phone_503983_000000download_red4xdownload_red4x copyArtboardmember-offer-starLogoMedibank - Logo - ColourOval 5Instagram iconicon-editdownload_red4x copygive-back--spinesgive-back--moneygive-back--massagegive-back--likegive-back--jointgive-back--emailgive-back--dislikedownload_red4xdownload_red4xGroup 5filter-iconfacebookMobile Navcheckcarret-upcarret-rightcarret-leftcarret-downGroup Copy 2arrowarrow-circleanimated-tick