Loneliness linked to early death
People under 65 who are lonely and socially isolated are at a higher risk of early death than those who has more social connections, concludes a group of researchers at Brigham Young University. In fact, one of the scientists suggested that the isolation risk factor is comparable to obesity, in terms of increasing the risk of premature death.
In the study, data from 70 previous studies between 1980 and 2014 were analyzed, covering more than 3 million individuals. The data included information on loneliness, social isolation, and living alone. The researchers controlled for certain variables, such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and pre-existing health conditions.
The results showed that social isolation was linked to an increase in premature death, while social relationships and connections were associated with having positive influences on health. However, the study was limited in that the data covered a very narrow range of ages of individuals. Most data came from people over the age of 65 and less than a quarter included people under that age.
Despite the limitations, the researchers warned that loneliness is on the rise as more people are living alone than ever before.