Loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater public-health hazard than obesity, and their impact is growing, according to research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival,” says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. “Yet an increasing portion of the U.S. population now experiences isolation regularly.” Approximately 42.6 million adults over age 45 in the U.S. are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness, according to AARP’s Loneliness Study.
Holt-Lunstad recommends that doctors be encouraged to include questions on social connectedness in medical screening. Also, she notes, community planners should include shared social spaces that encourage gathering and interaction, such as recreation centers and community gardens. Additionally, people should prepare for retirement socially as well as financially, as many social ties are related to the workplace.
Source: American Psychological Association