Health impact of divorce revealed
Middle-aged men and women who have experienced the stress of divorce are just as healthy as couples who remain in stable marriages - as long as they move into another long-term relationship or marry again, research suggests.
A study found that some divorced men even experienced health benefits, but individuals who had neither married nor lived with a partner had the worst health in middle age.
Researchers who analysed information on more than 10,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in the same week of spring 1958 found that divorcees who remarried were no more likely than those who remained married to have cardiovascular or respiratory health problems in early middle age.
Their analysis of couples who tied the knot in their 20s and early 30s and remained together also found they had almost identical standards of health to unmarried couples living together.
The study by University College London's (UCL) Institute of Education, London School of Economics and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is thought to be the first to investigate the links between relationship status and health in middle age in a large population sample.
Lead author, Dr George Ploubidis, a population health scientist at the UCL Institute of Education, said: "Numerous studies have found that married people have better health than unmarried people.
"However, our research shows that people born in the late 1950s who live together without marrying, or who experience separation, divorce and remarriage, have very similar levels of health in middle age to those who are married.
"Surprisingly, those men who divorced in their late 30s and did not subsequently remarry, were less likely to suffer from conditions related to diabetes in early middle age compared to those who were married."
Dr Ploubidis said p revious research showed there were several possible factors to explain the link between relationship status and health.
"For example, a partner can positively influence your health behaviour by encouraging you to exercise more, as well as provide important support in tough times," he said.
"A couple's income also appears to play an important role in affecting health."
Around two-thirds of the participants in the study married in their 20s and early 30s and remained married into their mid-40s.
Researchers found 8% of the men and 6% of the women married in their 20s or early 30s and later divorced before remarrying or cohabiting .
But more than 11% of men and 12% of women had never married or cohabited.