Study Shows Loneliness Raises Mortality Rate for Obese People


Jan. 23, 2024 — Loneliness has been known to be a serious health problem, and a new report makes the case that the suffering is worse for people who are obese.

“To date, dietary and lifestyle factors are the major focus in preventing obesity related illness,” said Lu Qi, MD, lead author of the study published Monday in JAMA Network Open to CNN.

“Our study highlights the importance of taking social and mental health into account in improving health for people with obesity,” said Qi, a professor at Tulane University.

CNN reported that “all causes of death for people classified as obese was 36% lower in people who felt less lonely and socially isolated, the data showed.”

The research found that social isolation is a greater risk factor for all causes of mortality, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, than depression, anxiety, and lifestyle risk factors — which included alcohol, exercise, and diet.

The study reviewed information from almost 400,000 people from the UK BioBank, a large database for long-term research. People in the research did not have cardiovascular disease at the start, and researchers followed up between March 2006 and November 2021.

Qi said it’s time to “integrate social and psychological factors into other dietary and lifestyle factors in the development of intervention strategies for preventing obesity-related complications.”

The findings suggest improving social isolation could be “a potential remedy for the reduction of mortality,” said Philipp Scherer, PhD, professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, who was not involved in the project.



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