Loneliness twice as bad for health as obesity

New research from the University of Chicago has found that loneliness has double the effect on early mortality then that of obesity.

Feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 per cent, according to research by psychologist Professor John Cacioppo [1]. This compares with a seven per cent increase in mortality risk for obese people, found in previous research.

Commenting on the research, Jack Neill-Hall, Campaign Manager for the Campaign to End Loneliness, says:

“These findings add to the growing body of evidence showing the profound impact loneliness can have on our health. For example, loneliness has been linked with the early onset of disability, cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease. It is also closely associated with poor health choices. Lonely people are more likely to smoke, drink to excess, have a poor diet and are less likely to exercise enough. “The comparison the research makes with obesity will help people to understand that loneliness is not just a sad state of affairs, it is a genuine public health issue. There are nearly a million older people in the UK who describe themselves as always or often lonely.

“Encouragingly, local authorities are increasingly recognising the need to invest in services which support people to keep up their social connections, develop new friendships to fill the voids that can be left by bereavement. But more can and should be done to make sure people don’t face loneliness unsupported.