“Not only are we at the highest recorded rate of living alone across the entire century, but we’re at the highest recorded rates ever on the planet,” said Tim Smith, co-author of the study. “With loneliness on the rise, we are predicting a possible loneliness epidemic in the future.”
Ask people what it takes to live a long life, and they’ll say things like exercise, take Omega-3s, and see your doctor regularly.
Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.
“The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead study author. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”
Loneliness and social isolation can look very different. For example, someone may be surrounded by many people but still feel alone. Other people may isolate themselves because they prefer to be alone. The effect on longevity, however, is much the same for those two scenarios.
The association between loneliness and risk for mortality among young populations is actually greater than among older populations. Although older people are more likely to be lonely and…
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