(MEDICALNEWSTODAY) — There are a number of health and lifestyle factors - obesity, smoking, air pollution - that are known to be risk factors for early mortality and receive considerable attention. New research has suggested that social connections should be added to this list, with a study finding loneliness and social isolation to be risk factors for all ages.
The researchers suggest that the more positive psychology that individuals have, the better they can function, both emotionally and physically.
Psychologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, discovered in a meta-analysis that loneliness and social isolation better predicted premature death among populations aged less than 65 years, despite older people being more likely to be lonely and having a higher mortality risk overall.
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"The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously," says lead author Julianne Holt-Lunstad. "We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously."