Loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can not only impact on conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure - but also affect how we recover from illness.
Since the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign launched in 2014, the body of evidence of the health effects of a lack of social connections has continued to grow.
Medical research from 2015 showed that loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 per cent, and can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Lonely people are at higher risk of the onset of disability, and at greater risk of cognitive decline.
One study from 2012 showed lonely individuals have a 64 per cent increased chance of developing clinical dementia, while repeated research has shone lonely people are more prone to depression.
Loneliness and low social interaction are predictive of suicide in older age.