New Report on Loneliness and Isolation

A new advisory from the Surgeon General declares that there is an epidemic of loneliness in the United States and that lacking connection can increase the risk for premature death to levels comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

1 minute read

May 8, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By clementkhlau

The U.S. Surgeon General has just released a report titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” which finds that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. As NPR reports in this article, the advisory warns that the physical consequences of poor connection can be devastating, including a 29 percent elevated risk of heart disease; a 32 percent increased risk of stroke; and a 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia for older adults.

Across age groups, people are spending less time with each other in person than two decades ago. The advisory reported that this was most pronounced in young people aged 15-24 who had 70 percent less social interaction with their friends.

The advisory outlines the framework for a new national strategy which is based on the following six foundational pillars:

  1. Strengthening social infrastructure, which includes things like parks and libraries as well as public programs.
  2. Enacting pro-connection public policies at every level of government, such as accessible public transportation or paid family leave.
  3. Mobilizing the health sector to address the medical needs that stem from loneliness.
  4. Reforming digital environments to critically evaluate our relationship with technology.
  5. Deepening our knowledge through more robust research into the issue.
  6. Cultivating a culture of connection.

For more information, please read the source article and review the full advisory.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in National Public Radio

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