Being lonely won't just make you feel sad—it may also endanger your life. In fact, researchers now say that people steeped in social isolation (including those who live by themselves) and a lack of connection with others can suffer just as much of a mortality risk as someone inhaling nearly a pack of cigarettes a day, and even more so than someone who's obese, Seeker reports. All of which leads Julianne Holt-Lunstad—a Brigham Young University psychology professor who presented these findings, also published in the PLOS ONE journal, at the American Psychological Association's convention on Saturday in DC—to stress that loneliness and isolation should be treated as public health issues.
She says they could perhaps be partly remedied via initiatives such as teaching kids more social skills in school, or prepping seniors on how to keep their social lives active after they retire.
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