Loneliness could be a greater threat to public health that obesity, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
U.S. census data shows more than a quarter of Americans live alone and more than half of Americans are not married.
At the convention researchers presented data from two meta-analyses. The first involved 148 studies with more than 300,000 participants and the second involved 70 studies with more than 3.4 million people.
Scientists found social isolation, loneliness and living alone all had a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death. Researchers say the risk was equal to or worse than the effect obesity has on mortality rates.