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Americans, Particularly Young Adults, Are Feeling Lonelier Than Ever

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Young adults are much more likely to report feeling lonely and in poor health compared to senior citizens, a survey shows.

The surprising results gathered opinions of 20,000 Americans and found that the overall national loneliness score was extremely high at 44 on a scale of 20 to 80. But the incidence of social isolation among people between the ages of 18 to 22 raises more concern, as these young people clocked loneliness scores of around 48 compared to around 39 for those older than 72 years, USA Today reports.

The survey was backed by the global insurance and health services company Cigna, which has voiced its worries about loneliness as a problem in society, not only because it makes people sad but also because it literally brings on sicknesses.

Cigna cited a 2010 report that said loneliness has the same effect on longevity as smoking 15 cigarettes daily, which makes it much more dangerous than obesity. David Cordani, CEO of Cigna, says that this research shows it’s clear that addressing loneliness will help with other problems.

Cordani said,

If their sense of health and well-being is more positive, then less destructive activities transpire.

Ipsos, the market research firm, posted some questions online between February 21 to March 6. They based the questions on the University of California’s Loneliness Scale to create the Cigna Loneliness Index. Another surprising finding was that young adults with the highest rates of social media use said they had similar feelings of loneliness compared to those who were barely on social media. However, Cordani says that “meaningful social interaction” is the key to drawing down isolation rates so that there are more face-to-face conversations.

More than half of the people surveyed in the 18-24 demographic – members of Generation Z – identified with 10 of the 11 feelings linked to loneliness, while over 90% of people older than 72 years reported that they felt close to others, having people to converse with and feeling “in tune with others.”

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