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Loneliness is More Deadly than Obesity


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Mortality rates for lonely people:
○    1.5 – The lonely are 50% more likely to die than the un-lonely

Mortality rates for normal weight & not lonely:
○    1.0 – “Normal weight” (BMI 18.5 to 30)

Mortality rates for obese people:
○    1.18 – The obese (bmi > 30) are 18% more likely to die than people of normal weight

And it’s getting worse
○    Percentage of Americans who reported being lonely
20% in the 1980s
40% today

Deadly Effects of Loneliness

○    “Being lonely isn’t bad for you, but staying lonely is.” -John Cacioppo, Social Neuroscientist, University of Chicago

People with the highest amount of loneliness were 2x more likely to die compared to lowest amount of loneliness.

○    Lonely older adults were more likely to have a:
■    50% Decline in daily living activities
■    31% Decline in ability to climb stairs
■    18% Decline in ability to walk & jog
■    Breast cancer: socially isolated women had a 66% greater risk of death

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○    Explanations to increased death rate:

■    Lonely adults were more likely to:
●    1. indulge in self-destructive behaviors
●    2. not have secure support support from others
●    3. have increased feelings of stress
●    4. have lowered immune and cardiovascular systems
●    5. have sleeping disorders

●    Loneliness has a complex definition that differs for everyone
○    the psychological embodiment of our perceived discrepancy between desired levels of social interaction.

■    2 types of social interaction Quantity vs Quality
●    Experts say it’s not the quantity of social relationships but the quality that really matters.

●    1. Number of total social contacts (acquaintances)
○    Average number of friends on facebook: 303
○    “We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” – Albert Schweitzer [1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner]
●    2. Number of quality relationships (confidants)

Here’s America’s problem:

■    1985
●    2.94 average number of confidants
●    10% claimed 0 confidants
■    2004 [latest report]
●    2.08 average number of confidants
●    25% claimed 0 confidants
●    One quarter of America has no one to confide in.

“Some of the most profound loneliness can happen when other people are present,” says Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

●    More studies are needed to find out why Americans are losing confidants
○    Current Hypotheses:
■    America became a more transient society
●    More willing to move away from home for a job
●    Studies have shown that degree of loneliness in new surroundings reflects the number of miles from home
■    Entertainment
●    people have more entertainment tools such as TVs, computers, mobile devices, so they can stay home and tune out.
●    the “Internet paradox.”
○    contradiction of increased connection to humans and a lack of human contact
○    “The [more] face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are, the [more] online interactions, the lonelier you are.” -John Cacioppo
●    Facebook
○    Studies show that the more people used Facebook the worse they subsequently felt.
●    Mobile
○    Digitally Socializing in the presence of others indicates someone somewhere else is more important.