HEALTH: In a worrisome turn of events, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized loneliness as a critical global health hazard, equating its impact on mortality to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to the US surgeon general.
To combat this growing concern, WHO has launched an international commission dedicated to addressing loneliness by fostering social connections and implementing solutions on a global scale, irrespective of income levels.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, highlighted the severe repercussions of widespread social isolation and loneliness on health and well-being.
He emphasized that individuals lacking robust social connections face elevated risks of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide, and more.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a stark warning, asserting that the health risks associated with loneliness are comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes daily, surpassing even those linked to obesity and physical inactivity. He underscored the underestimated nature of loneliness as a public health threat.
WHO reports indicate that loneliness is correlated with a 50% increased risk of developing dementia and a 30% increased risk of coronary artery disease or stroke among older adults.
Research further suggests that between 5% and 15% of adolescents experience loneliness, though these figures are likely conservative estimates. The gravity of the issue underscores the urgent need for collective global action.