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Young Americans are the loneliest, surprising study from Cigna shows

02 May 2018

And about 43 percent sometimes or always feel their relationships are not meaningful, the survey found. Americans who live with other people are only slightly less likely to be lonely.

Work life balance also influenced a person's loneliness scale, with those who worked more than, or less than desired, reporting higher scores of loneliness compared with those who have just the right amount of work, 45 and 48 compared to 41.9 respectively. Loneliness is a major threat to Americans' mental, physical and emotional well-being and can have huge consequences for public health, given the well-researched connections between loneliness and health issues ranging from substance abuse to heart disease.

Respondents who had too much or too little of any of these activities had higher reported scores of loneliness.

Dr. Cheryl Bemel is a psychologist with Health Partners. When someone says 'how are you doing?' Are they really asking how are we doing?

Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. The University of California, Los Angeles tool uses a series of statements and a formula to calculate a loneliness score based on responses. The study authors classified anything above a 43 as loneliness.

Cigna used the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a widely-used measure of loneliness which analyzes negative affect, social isolation, and tendencies of group affiliation.

"And this is a generation that's grown up with TV and video games and sweets, and so now it's a reflection of what their lifestyle has been so far and they feel lonely and left out", said Khubchandani.

Yet certain demographics were worse off than others.

That's according to global insurer and health services company Cigna, which sponsored a study on loneliness. And while it would be easy to blame rampant social media use for this effect, the study found that the most digitally active respondents' loneliness scores weren't very different from their those of their peers, suggesting that other factors may be at play. This number declined as age increased, with the "Greatest Generation", adults, age 72 years or older, being the least lonely group with a score of 38.6.

"I have students who tell me they have 500 'friends, ' but when they're in need, there's no one", Khubchandani said. Among others, numerous reported reasons for loneliness were lack of companionship, meaningless relationships, and isolation from others.

"Acknowledge it. Let other people know".

Young Americans are the loneliest, surprising study from Cigna shows