Study Says Being Single Will Kill You Faster Than Obesity

Barsaba Taglieri
Agosto 9, 2017

Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity.

Chronic loneliness is a widespread problem, with about 42.6 million adults suffering from it, according to AARP's Loneliness Study.

Approximately 42.6million adults over 45 in the USA are lonely. In the United Kingdom, 3.9million people say the television is their main source of company. A study found that social isolation may put people at an increased risk of early death.

Two study reviews were conducted.

The first had 148 studies of more than 300,000 participants.

The second involved 70 trials of more than 3.4million people from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The results confirmed the longevity benefits of a rich social life: A greater social connection is associated with a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of premature mortality.

A new survey into more than 200 studies on loneliness has found isolation has a greater effect on life chances than weight. Researchers reportedly found that all three factors had a significant effect on the risk of premature death and in some cases exceeded obesity as a major risk factor.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor at Brigham Young University in the USA said, being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need - crucial to both well-being and survival. This means that the immune systems in lonely people go into fight mode, but against bacteria, not viruses. "Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment", said Julianne Holt-Lunstad. "It lets you know when social connections start to fray, and causes the brain to go on alert for social threats", John Cacioppo, University of Chicago social psychologist and Coles' co-researcher, told LiveScience, adding that it turns into a downward spiral toward even more loneliness. "With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase", the professor said.

Possible solutions, she said, include getting doctors to screen patients for social isolation, and training schoolchildren in social skills.

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

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