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Loneliness May Be a Greater Health Risk Than Obesity

Kelly Kasulis - Mic
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August 11, 2017

Loneliness is literally killing us | Will Wright (TEDx Talks)

Not only does loneliness suck, but it’s a serious health concern. Studies have linked social isolation to immune system issues, terrible sleep and high blood pressure caused by hardening arteries, for instance. Now, a group of scientists say that it could be a greater public health issue than obesity.

Scientists conducted two meta-analyses examining previous research on the possible links between loneliness and health. In the first meta-analysis, they looked at 148 different studies and found that more social connection is associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of early death. The second meta-analysis examined 70 studies and found that three factors — social isolation, feelings of loneliness and living alone — were all associated with higher risks for premature death. The risks were so significant that they were equal to or greater than obesity’s effect on premature death, according to a release from the American Psychological Association.

That’s a huge problem, considering that loneliness is rampant in the United States. A 2010 survey of more than 3,000 adults age 45 and older, for instance, concluded that about 35% of people polled were lonely.

“Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic,’” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, said in the release. “The challenge we face now is what can be done about it.”

Check out some tips that might make you less lonely at Mic

Related: Seniors Dance for Health, Life - and to Beat the Blues (La Opinión)

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