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.
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