Loneliness: A Bigger Health Threat than Obesity?
Loneliness and social isolation are growing problems in the United States and may be an even larger threat to health than obesity, say researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah, who presented their findings at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
According to AARP’s Loneliness Study, about 42.6 million U.S. adults over 45 suffer from chronic loneliness. Recent census data indicates that more than 25 percent of the population now lives alone. One meta-analysis involving more than 300,000 participants suggests that greater social connection is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of early death.
Another analysis examined the association between social isolation, loneliness, living alone, and mortality. Researchers discovered that all three of these factors have an effect on early death risk — an effect equal to or exceeding that of risk factors like obesity.