Are you aware that loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity. Loneliness or social isolation takes a major toll on our health linked to the development of diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, and a propensity toward a premature death. In a recent study, they found that people with larger social groups receive fewer type 2 diabetes diagnoses compared to those who are socially isolated. This research shows us that promoting social interaction could prevent or even treat type 2 diabetes. Miranda Schram, an epidemiologist at Maastricht University and study co-author, noted that getting patients to increase physical activity or change their diets is difficult at best, so she decided to look at alternative strategies for intervention. So, they began a study with 2,861 patients ages 40 to 70 with diabetes, prediabetes, or normal blood sugars. Using questionnaires, they observed their social behaviors over a period of three months. What they found out was that women with normal glucose levels had, on average, 12 people in their social networks, while women with prediabetes or diabetes had fewer, about eight to 11 people. The researchers recorded similar statistically significant differences in the social networks of men with normal glucose levels and prediabetes versus men with type 2 diabetes. Women had larger social networks overall. The team found that isolated women had a 112 percent higher chance of type 2 diabetes relative to women with larger social networks, while withdrawn men were 42 percent more likely to have the disease. Men living alone had 94 percent higher odds of type 2 diabetes. Some men noted poor dietary habits at home and lacked people to encourage them to stay healthy. Medical professionals may need to start recognizing and focusing on single, socially isolated men as the most high-risk group. In contrast, women showed a slight advantage over men because of a tendency toward larger social groups. The team found women who live near their friends and have tight-knit relationships fare much better. — Journal BMC Public Health