Research Article: Do singles or couples live healthier lifestyles? Trends in Queensland between 2005-2014

Date Published: February 28, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Stephanie Schoeppe, Corneel Vandelanotte, Amanda L. Rebar, Melanie Hayman, Mitch J. Duncan, Stephanie J. Alley, Aysegul Taylan Ozkan.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192584

Abstract

To compare the frequency of and trends in healthy lifestyle factors between singles and couples.

Cross-sectional data from annual surveys conducted from 2005–2014 were used. The pooled sample included 15,001 Australian adults (mean age: 52.9 years, 50% male, 74% couples) who participated in the annual Queensland Social Survey via computer-assisted telephone interviews. Relationship status was dichotomised into single and couple. Binary logistic regression was used to assess associations between relationship status, and the frequency of and trends in healthy lifestyle factors.

Compared to singles, couples were significantly more likely to be a non-smoker (OR = 1.82), and meet recommendations for limited fast food (OR = 1.12), alcohol consumption (OR = 1.27) and fruit and vegetable intake (OR = 1.24). Fruit and vegetable intake was not significantly associated with relationship status after adjusting for the other healthy lifestyle factors. Conversely, couples were significantly less likely to be within a normal weight range (OR = 0.81). In both singles and couples, the trend data revealed significant declines in the rates of normal weight (singles: OR = 0.97, couples: OR = 0.97) and viewing TV for less than 14 hours per week (singles: OR = 0.85, couples: OR = 0.84), whilst non-smoking rates significantly increased (singles: OR = 1.12, couples: OR = 1.03). The BMI trend was no longer significant when adjusting for health behaviours. Further, in couples, rates of meeting recommendations for physical activity and fruit/vegetable consumption significantly decreased (OR = 0.97 and OR = 0.95, respectively), as did rates of eating no fast food (OR = 0.96). These trends were not significant when adjusting for the other healthy lifestyle factors. In singles, rates of meeting alcohol recommendations significantly increased (OR = 1.08).

Health behaviour interventions are needed in both singles and couples, but relationship status needs to be considered in interventions targeting alcohol, fast food, smoking and BMI. Further research is needed to understand why health behaviours differ by relationship status in order to further improve interventions.

Partial Text

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer are highly prevalent and a leading cause of death worldwide [1]. In 2012, 38 million (68%) of the world’s 56 million deaths were attributed to NCDs [1]. Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol, smoking, sedentary behaviour, and overweight/obesity are among the top 10 risk factors for NCD-related morbidity and mortality [2]. To reduce the burden of NCDs at the population level, the World Health Organization recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, quit smoking, limit the amount of alcohol intake, reduce sedentary time, and maintain a normal body weight [3–6].

Descriptive statistics of the sample are presented in Table 1. The mean age was 52.9 (SD = 15.9) years, 50% were male, 1% Indigenous, 74% couples, 52% had more than13 years of education, 58% were employed, 81% lived in urban areas, and 65% had children under 18 years living at their residence. With regards to healthy lifestyle factors, 69% of adults were meeting Australian alcohol recommendations, 59% were meeting the physical activity recommendations and 12% were meeting fruit and vegetable recommendations. Further, 86% of adults were non-smokers, 57% consumed no fast food in the last week and 42% spent less than 14 hours per week viewing TV. Some of the healthy lifestyle factors differed significantly between singles and couples. Initial chi-square and t-test analyses showed that, compared to singles, more couples were meeting the recommendations for alcohol consumption (65% vs 71%; p < 0.001), were non-smokers (80% vs 88%; p < 0.001) and spent less than 14 hours per week viewing TV (40% vs 43%; p < 0.001). However, fewer couples than singles had a healthy weight (37% vs 42%; p < 0.001). This study investigated the frequency of healthy lifestyle factors in Queensland singles and couples and identified trends in these healthy lifestyle factors between 2005–2014. The frequency data, that was unadjusted for other healthy lifestyle factors, showed that compared to singles, couples were more likely to engage in healthy behaviours (i.e., meeting recommendations for fruit, vegetable, fast food and alcohol intake, being non-smoker). Conversely, couples were less likely to have a normal weight compared to singles. The unadjusted trend data showed that amongst both couples and singles, the percentage who maintained a normal weight and limited their TV viewing to ≤14 hours per week declined, whilst the percentage who were non-smokers declined. Some trends occurred in either singles or couples. For example, in couples, rates of meeting physical activity and fruit/vegetable recommendations significantly decreased, as did the rates of eating no fast food. In singles, rates of meeting alcohol recommendations significantly increased. After adjusting for other healthy lifestyle factors, the higher rates of meeting the fruit and vegetable recommendations in couples was no longer significant. Further, the BMI trends in couples and singles, the smoking trend in singles, and the physical activity, fruit/vegetable and fast food trends in couples were no longer significant. This study contributes to the literature by examining the frequency and trends of multiple healthy lifestyle factors together, among singles and couples. Frequency data, that was unadjusted for other healthy lifestyle factors, showed that couples were more likely to pursue healthy behaviours (more fruits and vegetables, less fast food and alcohol, no smoking), but despite this, they were more likely to be overweight, compared to singles. The association between relationship status and fruit and vegetable intake was not significant when adjusting for other healthy lifestyle factors. Unadjusted trend data revealed that in both singles and couples rates of normal weight and TV viewing ≤14 hours per week declined, whilst non-smoker rates increased. However the BMI trend was not significant when adjusting for health behaviours. In couples, unadjusted but not adjusted rates of meeting physical activity and fruit/vegetable recommendations declined, as did rates of eating no fast food. In singles, both unadjusted and adjusted rates of meeting alcohol recommendations increased. Overall, these findings suggest that health behaviour interventions are needed in both singles and couples, but relationship status needs to be considered in interventions targeting alcohol, fast food, smoking and BMI. Research is also needed to understand why health behaviours differ by relationship status in order to further improve interventions.   Source: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192584

 

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