Couples-based behaviour change interventions to reduce metabolic syndrome risk. A systematic review

Sundus Nizamani, Shawn Somerset, Cathy Knight-Agarwal, Rosemary McFarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Although MetS risk is transferred via the epigenome from both biological parents, periconceptional lifestyle interventions are generally directed towards mothers. There is a need for interventions to reflect the shared nature of epigenetic MetS risk between both biological parents. Couples-based lifestyle interventions have previously been used to improve adherence to behaviour change in conditions with shared risk responsibility such as sexually transmitted diseases. This systematic literature review sought to answer the research question: Are couples-based interventions more effective than individual interventions to address overweight and obesity as the primary modifiable risk for MetS in addition to other associated factors.
Couples-based studies involving randomised controlled trials, published between 01/01/1990-31/12/2021, were identified in Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection, Cochrane, and Scopus.
After screening 4742 articles, only five eligible trials remained. Statistically significant post-intervention maintenance of low glycaemic levels was observed in one study. Otherwise, no statistically significant group differences between couples' groups and control groups were observed in any of the five included studies.
The included studies concluded that couple-based interventions can lead to weight reduction, maintenance, and adherence to modified health behaviours similar to interventions that target individuals. Overall, the findings indicate that, notwithstanding the paucity of authentic couples-based interventions, there is potential for such approaches to moderate MetS risk factors likely to flow onto epigenetic transmission of risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102662
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDiabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research and Reviews
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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