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Loneliness Worse Than Obesity

Update Date: Feb 23, 2017 07:00 AM EST

Loneliness, associated with living alone, could be worse than obesity. Spending more time in isolation can often lead to a decrease in self-confidence and withdrawal in social gatherings.

Loneliness is linked to serious health problems as shown by several studies. One study from University of California, San Francisco revealed that loneliness may increase risk of death by 23 percent. A functional decline among the subjects was also noted. In the study, loneliness was defined as the gap between desired versus actual relationship.

In another study conducted by University of Chicago, researchers found that loneliness in old age is twice as dangerous as obesity. Feeling of isolation can have a significant negative effect like blood pressure and sleep patterns. Participants, who reported being lonely, were 14 percent more likely to get health complications, including death, within the next six years. Those who suffered from obesity have only a seven percent health risk.

A charity that supports older people to age gracefully called ALONE highlights the importance of tackling the effects of loneliness. In Ireland, one third of residents aged 65 years old and above, and 60 percent of 80 years old and up live alone. In Australia, around 3.3 million citizens will be living alone by 2035 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The charity group is reminding the general public to ease of loneliness among the elderly by extending their hand of friendship. It is vital that as people age, they maintain strong links with the local community.

Loneliness has devastating effects to one's general health. It can lead to depression, dementia, cardiovascular disease and even decreased immune system. Feelings of isolation are as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. However, some elderly persons are hesitant to ask help and support to alleviate their feelings of loneliness for fear that they might be bothering the younger generation.

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