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Home Industry News Isolation and loneliness ‘could be bigger public health risk than obesity’

Isolation and loneliness ‘could be bigger public health risk than obesity’

8th August 2017

New research has suggested that loneliness and social isolation could represent a greater public health hazard than obesity in the coming years.

The Brigham Young University research analysed data from 148 pre-existing studies, representing more than 300,000 participants, and found that greater social connection is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of early death.

Meanwhile, an accompanying analysis of 70 studies representing more than 3.4 million individuals revealed that social isolation, loneliness or living alone had a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death – one that was equal to or exceeded the effect of other well-accepted risk factors, such as obesity.

Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, said: "With an increasing ageing population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a 'loneliness epidemic'."

As such, the researchers called for a greater priority to be placed on research and efforts to tackle this threat, including social skills training for children in schools and the inclusion of social connectedness as a factor in medical screening.

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