Wednesday, June 7, 2023

US public health chief: Loneliness is as deadly as smoking

New York – Widespread loneliness in the United States poses a health risk equivalent to smoking a dozen cigarettes a day, and costs the healthcare industry billions of dollars per year, the US surgeon general said Tuesday as he declared a new public health epidemic. Did.

Nearly half of American adults say they have experienced loneliness, Dr. Vivek Murthy said in an 81-page report from his office.

“We now know that loneliness is a normal emotion experienced by many people. It is like thirst or hunger. It is a sensation that the body transmits when we are missing something to survive,” Murthy explained in an interview to The Associated Press. “Millions of people in the United States suffer in the shadows, and that’s not right. That is why I have issued this notice to lift the veil on the struggle that many people are experiencing.”

The official statement aims to raise awareness of loneliness, but will not unlock federal funding or programs dedicated to tackling the problem.

Studies show that Americans, who have decreased their involvement with temples, community organizations, and even their own family members in recent decades, have consistently reported increased feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, the number of individual households has doubled in the past 60 years.

But the crisis has become much greater with the spread of COVID-19, which has forced the closure of schools and workplaces and left millions of people in the country isolated at home away from relatives and friends.

People have reduced their friendship groups and spent time with those friends during the coronavirus pandemic, the public health report said. Americans were spending about 20 minutes per day in person with friends in 2020, up from 60 minutes per day nearly two decades ago.

The loneliness epidemic hits young people between the ages of 15 and 24 especially hard. That group reported a 70% drop in time spent with friends over the same period.

Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by almost 30%, and the report states that people with fewer social connections also have a higher risk of stroke and heart disease. Isolation also increases a person’s chances of suffering from depression, anxiety and dementia.

The Director of Public Health called for changes in workplaces, schools, technology companies, community organizations, parents and others to increase human connections in the country. He advised people to join community groups and turn off their cell phones when out with friends, employers to carefully consider their telecommuting policies, and health networks to educate doctors about the resulting health risks of loneliness. Can be trained to recognize.

Technology has exponentially exacerbated the problem of loneliness, and a study cited in the report found that people who used social media for two hours or more a day were twice as likely as people who spent less than 30 minutes a day. were more than twice as likely to report feelings of social isolation than One day for those platforms.

Murthy said that social media in particular is increasing loneliness. Their report suggested that tech companies deploy protections around their behavior on social media, especially for minors.

Murthy said, ‘There is no substitute for in-person interaction. “As we use technology more and more for our communication, we lose that personal interaction. How do we design technology that strengthens our relationships rather than weakens them?

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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