Loneliness may be more deadly than obesity

Loneliness epidemic’ is a huge future crisis

Loneliness epidemic’ is a huge future crisis

A new study suggests loneliness and isolation are quickly becoming major public health concerns in the U.S.

Holt-Lunstad cited a recent AARP study that estimated that 43 million Americans over the age of 45 were suffering from chronic loneliness.

And, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness, the UK's loneliness epidemic costs business $26 million per year for the costs associated with health outcomes and sick days. In the United Kingdom, 3.9million people say the television is their main source of company.

And the threat of death isn't just hyperbole: A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and UCLA found that the immune systems in socially isolated people were more suppressed than people with regular social interaction, making them more likely to be invaded by viruses and other illnesses.

In France, a 2016 study conducted by Crédoc for the Fondation de France found that social isolation affects one person in 10. In one, researchers analyzed 148 studies that included a total of more than 300,000 people.

The second involved 70 trials of more than 3.4million people from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The conclusion: The effect of the three was equal to or greater than well-known risk factors such as obesity.

"Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need - crucial to both well-being and survival".

'Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment. The growing phenomenon of loneliness, which worldwide experts have described as a global epidemic, may be responsible for as many deaths as obesity, according to the results of two meta-analyses presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington. "With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase".

She suggested greater priority be placed on research and resources to tackle loneliness such as social skills for children in schools.

Holt-Lunstad also suggested that community planners include spaces that encourage people to gather together, such as recreation centers and community gardens.

The findings were presented at the 125th annual American Psychological Association congress in Washington DC.

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