The WHO has declared that loneliness is as bad for you as smoking. As the most connected era in history draws to a close, the global health body has gone all out to tackle the issue of growing loneliness.
The organization has considered it such a global issue that a new "lonely disease" has been created - ‘social solitude'. In fact, it can even cause premature death, and social isolation is more widespread than previously thought.
They say that we are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke if our feelings aren't properly attended to.
Loneliness knows no boundaries. It affects people of all ages, races and backgrounds, making it a pressing global health concern.
The African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, highlighted in an interview with The Guardian that loneliness impacts every facet of health, well-being and development.
This sentiment is echoed by US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-chairing the newly formed international Commission on Social Connection by WHO.
In their declaration, WHO revealed that one in four older people suffer from social isolation, while 5-15% of adolescents experience loneliness. These numbers are alarming and demand attention.
Adding to the concern is a study conducted by the University of Glasgow, which found that individuals who do not socialize with friends or family may have a 39% higher risk of premature death. The study also indicated that surface-level interactions do not provide the same protective effect.
The consequences of chronic loneliness are staggering, with research suggesting that it can be as harmful to health as smoking, obesity and other risk factors.
In fact, studies have shown that loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, poor immune function, cardiovascular issues and even brain shrinkage. Imaging studies have revealed that people who have less social interaction have smaller temporal lobes, occipital lobes, cingulum, hippocampus and amygdala.
Recognizing the magnitude of the problem, WHO has established a three-year mission for its new commission to combat loneliness and social isolation.
The commission aims to analyze the central role of social connection in improving health for individuals of all ages and develop scalable solutions to promote social connections.
Given the profound impact of loneliness and isolation on both health and society, it's crucial to invest in rebuilding the social fabric of our communities.
Dr. Murthy underscores the obligation to address loneliness on par with other global health concerns like tobacco use, obesity, and addiction. By doing so, we can cultivate social connections that will not only provide protection against premature death but also enhance overall well-being.
We're all social animals, and we have evolved to need others - yet knowing that doesn't prevent us from suffering the damaging effects of loneliness. If we hope to change a growing public health crisis, we must understand the role of loneliness.
There's an urgent need for more research into loneliness and how best to help those in need, so the WHO's declaration that loneliness is as deadly as smoking is a welcome step forward in bringing the issue to public attention.2023-11-20T04:54:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd