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Ear to the Ground

Loneliness Trumps Obesity in Danger to Elderly

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Posted on Feb 16, 2014

seeveeaar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Researchers looking into the impact of feelings of isolation on older people found that loneliness can be twice as unhealthy as obesity.

Ian Sample writes at The Guardian:

The scientists tracked more than 2,000 people aged 50 and over and found that the loneliest were nearly twice as likely to die during the six-year study than the least lonely.

Compared with the average person in the study, those who reported being lonely had a 14% greater risk of dying. The figure means that loneliness has around twice the impact on an early death as obesity. Poverty increased the risk of an early death by 19%.

The findings point to a coming crisis as the population ages and people increasingly live alone or far from their families. A study of loneliness in older Britons in 2012 found that more than a fifth felt lonely all the time, and a quarter became more lonely over five years. Half of those who took part in the survey said their loneliness was worse at weekends, and three-quarters suffered more at night.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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