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WHO: Loneliness as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes

 A man deep in thought. [istockphoto]

According to the World Health Organization, loneliness may be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

This comes after (WHO) declared loneliness a significant global health concern. Social psychologists define loneliness as the gap between the social connections you would like to have and those you feel you experience.

The Covid-19 pandemic seems to be the catalyst to this issue according to the social commission put together by WHO.

The disruption of economic and social activities has taken its toll on the global social connection. In a recent article by CNN, they reported a met Meta-Gallup survey taken across 142 countries they found that 1 in 4 adults experience loneliness with young adults between 19 to 29 having the highest rates. 

To address this issue, WHO has put together an international commission led by US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and African Union youth envoy Chido Mpemba. The commission comprises of 11 advocates including the minister responsible for loneliness and isolation measures in Japan. The WHO Commission on Social Connection has come up with a three-year study and plan that aims to explore solutions to alleviate the global impact of loneliness.

Dr Murthy called loneliness a public health “epidemic” and compared it and its health risks to that of obesity or physical inactivity as even greater in regards to health complications and compared it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Studies have also shown that students who suffer from loneliness have a higher risk of dropping out of school and university. It has shown that loneliness can lead to poor performance in the workplace and low job satisfaction.

Mpemba said: “Loneliness transcends borders and is becoming a global public health concern affecting every facet of health, well-being and development, Social isolation knows no age or boundaries.”

Dr Murthy, on his part, added that loneliness is an underreported issue globally that must be looked into as it poses a global threat to society.

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