It has long been recognised that loneliness has a negative impact on the mind, but it is becoming more apparent that it is also connected with increased risk of disease. The Campaign to End Loneliness recently published a report highlighting findings that “having weak social connections carries a health risk equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day; equivalent to being an alcoholic; and twice as harmful as obesity.”
Studies at Ohio State University and the University of Chicago have found that people who are socially isolated develop changes in their immune system which can cause chronic inflammation. Older people tend to be the population group most afflicted loneliness, and with the number of older people increasing, it is imperative that the problem of intense loneliness and isolation be addressed.
Coverage of this research is available from the BBC.