Read the full article from The Seattle Times at the link HERE! Loneliness isn’t just a feeling. It’s a public health concern, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Wednesday in Seattle. 

Murthy declared loneliness and isolation a national epidemic in May 2023, issuing an 81-page report outlining the problem and potential solutions. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of American adults said they’d experienced loneliness. 

Isolation has significant effects on physical health: It increases heart disease risk by 29%, stroke risk by 32% and dementia risk by 50%, according to the Surgeon General’s office. A lack of social connection increases the risk of premature death by more than 60% — the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

“As somebody who sits in an office that for generations has focused on issues like tobacco and obesity, it made me realize that this issue of loneliness is a public health concern,” Murthy said.