Loneliness a greater health threat than obesity, researchers say

Published: Aug. 13, 2017 at 3:54 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2017 at 1:38 PM CDT
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Park Place Rehabilitation Center in Tyler. Combats the negative impact of loneliness with...
Park Place Rehabilitation Center in Tyler. Combats the negative impact of loneliness with social activities. (Source: KLTV News Staff)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The American Psychological Association released a new study saying that social isolation and loneliness may be a greater threat to public health than obesity.

According to research presented at the association's convention, the problem will only continue to grow.

Park Place, a rehabilitation center in Tyler, is working to combat that issue and seeing the positive effects. By getting residents out, social, and active they have noticed dramatic improvements in their health.

Their method was proven successful when Carol Spano,78, a Park Place resident transferred into Park Place from another center in the area that did not have activities for their residents.

When Spano came into Park Place she was on hospice, depressed, and spent most of her time in her room but, in just six months she was off of hospice and attending nearly every group activity the center held.

Spano also says that she feels the increased social interaction has boosted her self-esteem and helped with the physical pain.

LaTrail Bowie, the center's Enrichment Coordinator, stresses that loneliness is not just a problem for the elderly. She say's teens can feel the impact of loneliness too.

"I know some teenagers don't want their parents to be overbearing," says Bowie. "But I think counseling is very important at a teenage age where they are being isolated or secluded because we don't know really know what the deep issues may be."

The American Psychological Association says social isolation may be prevented at an early stage by stressing the importance of learning social skills while children are still young.

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