Spending too much time in front of the computer or the boob tube instead of getting out in the real wold? If so, these findings may give you pause: lonely people with minimal social ties face equivalent health risks as those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day or become alcoholics. And socially isolated folks could even have a shorter lifespan than those who are obese.
Brigham Young University researchers analyzed 148 previous studies involving more than 300,000 people and apparently found those with strong social networks (including family, friends, co-workers and other social connections) had a 50 percent greater survival eight years later than loners.
Being socially disconnected — a loose term usually taken to mean having few good friends or strong family relationships — was said to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day and to heavy drinking — of six units of alcohol a day — the scientists involved said. It was also worse for someone’s health than such better-recognised health risks as avoiding exercise, and twice as bad for one’s health as being obese.
These findings apply to all age groups, not merely the elderly, the researchers contend. The study was published in the Public Library of Science journal.
In this video, Brigham Young psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, of the study’s co-authors, summaries the apparent connection between relationships and health/longevity: