Study indicates that being single will kill you faster than obesity
In order to lead a healthy lifestyle, there are a number of things that a person needs. For starters, we need food and water, sleep and exercise, and a safe place to stay. But that's not all we need to be happy. Factor that into the equation, and we also need goals to strive for, things to look forward to, and, most importantly, other people to enjoy ourselves with.
We've known for a while now that too much of some of these things can be fatal. Too much food, of course, leads to obesity, and that, in turn, can cause or worsen a number of health problems that may eventually lead to an early death.
According to one study, however, being single can be even deadlier.
In a study conducted at Brigham Young University in the US, researchers looked into 218 studies that explained the health effects of loneliness and social isolation. What they discovered was that social isolation raised a person’s risk of death by 50 per cent; meanwhile, obesity only raised that risk by 30 per cent.
Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead author of the study, said: "Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to both well-being and survival.
"Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment.
"Yet an increasing portion of the US population now experiences isolation regularly."
Of course, this doesn't just apply to being single. However, those with romantic partners are less likely to feel lonely than those without, and so having an other half definitely seems to be something of a necessity for wellbeing as well as just something that many of us desire.
What's more, many people who do experience loneliness tend to be older, and therefore are already at a higher risk of death from natural causes than younger people. Even with that considered, though, being alone has still been proven to be a contributing factor towards death. Indeed, a recent investigation, titled 'Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death' followed more than 1,600 adults with an average age of 71 and found that individuals who felt lonely died sooner than their more socially-engaged peers.
"There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators," explained Holt-Lunstad.
"With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic.’ The challenge we face now is what can be done about it."
So far, her main suggestion for helping to combat the epidemic is to teach the effects of it in school, and ensure that children have the social skills to prevent them from experiencing loneliness, but also to furnish them with the knowledge of how important it is to make sure that others aren't lonely.
And if you're currently feeling lonely while reading this, or know someone who might be, reach out! There are so many things you can do in order to spend more time with people - and dating is only one of them.