According to a recent study, there has been found that the feeling of loneliness can possibly be more dangerous than obesity itself. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor who teaches at Brigham Young University, stated that social isolation is putting individual’s life at risk and that being socially connected with other people is considered one of the fundamental human needs that are vital for the individual’s well-being and development.
The professor also gives an example of cases where social isolation has incredibly negative effects on children who are in custodial care and lack human interaction and affection. In this hostile environment, the child cannot thrive and develop according to their age and often die. With this information about the lack of social interaction, it can easily be explained why solitary confinement is used as a form of punishment.
Moreover, a study reported by Medical News Today suggested that the lack of social interaction and loneliness are often linked to a poor health condition. For instance, it was proved that loneliness is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other research showed the important role of having a good support system when fighting cancer; loneliness reduced the survival rate for patients with breast cancer.
Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad demonstrated the effects of loneliness and social isolation on the risk for premature death with the help of two research reviews. The first research involved 148 studies and approximately 300,000 participants. It was concluded that a greater level of social interaction can reduce the risk of early death by 50%. The second study involved 70 studies with approximately 3.4 participants from different continents: North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
All researchers showed that loneliness and social isolation have a significant role in increasing the risk of premature death; one of them even exceeded the effect of other risk-factors like obesity. In other words, even if loneliness or social isolation does not have physical indicators like other conditions, such as obesity or cancer, the lack of social interaction should not be underestimated.