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Couples more likely to get healthy together

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London: Quitting smoking, losing weight and getting active are easier if your partner makes the change as well, a new study has found.

Scientists at University College London looked at how likely people were to quit smoking, start being active, or lose weight in relation to what their partner did.

They found that people are more successful in taking up healthy habits if their partner makes positive changes too.


Among women who smoked, 50 per cent managed to quit if their partner gave up smoking too at the same time, compared with 17 per cent of women whose partners were already non-smokers, and eight per cent of those whose partners were regular smokers.

The study found that men were equally affected by their partners and were more likely to quit smoking, get active, or lose weight if their partner made the same behaviour change.

The research looked at 3,722 couples, either married or living together and over the age of 50, who were taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

“Unhealthy lifestyles are a leading cause of death from chronic disease worldwide. The key lifestyle risks are smoking, excess weight, physical inactivity, poor diet, and alcohol consumption,” said Professor Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL and one of the study authors.

“Swapping bad habits for good ones can reduce the risk of disease, including cancer,” Wardle said.

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.