Public Health Issue: Feeling of Loneliness Increases Risk of Death by 26%

According to new research published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a lack of social connection may have serious consequences for our health and longevity. Researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed nearly 35 years of data on how loneliness, social isolation and living alone can impact your lifespan. What they discovered is unsettling.

The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something public health takes very seriously,” says BYU researcher Julianne Holt-​Lundstad, lead author of the study. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

The data, which was based on roughly 3 million participants, found that the subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%. This is particularly worrisome given that loneliness plagues nearly 60 million Americans, Kerry Song tells us.

Health practitioners can help spread awareness, especially when considering that the new AudienceSCAN study found 39% of American adults are not in "relationships."

"While being alone and feeling alone are not the same thing, the effect on longevity, however, is similar. Social isolation and living alone were found to be even more harmful to a person’s health than feelings of loneliness, increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32% respectively. This is on par with the risk mortality associated with obesity."

"Earlier research has found that isolation and loneliness threaten longevity as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. And a number of studies have revealed the ways isolation and loneliness can manifest in health issues."

The health category can reach out to Singles through informative and caring pre-​roll ads. The new AudienceSCAN study showed 19.5% of Singles took action after seeing pre-​roll video ads (the video that plays before the video you want to watch) in the past 30 days.

This is something that we need to take seriously for our health,” warns Holt-​Lunstad. “This should become a public-​health issue.”

"It’s easier than ever to go an entire day without actually interacting with another human being. We use texts and emails to say “I love you,” we use social media to wish others a “happy birthday,” we do our banking, book our travel and order groceries all with the simple click of a finger. But the irony is, the more technologically connected we become, the more socially isolated from each other we find ourselves."

"More Americans are living alone than ever before. In 2012, more than one in four households had someone living alone. Experts chock it up to Americans marrying later, having fewer children, divorcing at higher rates and living longer."

With much communication happening via smartphones these days, marketers should be pressed to show up there. The new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 45% of Singles took action after getting mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads in the past year.

"The good news is that the study also found that the presence of social relationships provided the opposite, positive effect on health and longevity."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.