Silicon Valley may have declared a public health emergency over its loneliness crisis and pledged to promote social interaction, but the tech epicenter is not the place where people feel most isolated.
Americans are more likely to feel lonely if they live in the state of Maine, a report suggests.
health experts in Aging looked at factors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including the number of single-person households and the number of divorces, that can increase the risk of loneliness, to determine where in the country people lacked the most social connection.
The researchers then ranked each state and calculated an average figure for comparison.
They found that the Pine Tree State, which has one of the highest divorce rates in the country, was the loneliest, with a score of 7.6 out of 10.
Maine was considered the loneliest state, closely followed by Florida and Ohio. Meanwhile, Utah was the least lonely state, closely followed by Alaska and Hawaii.
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Florida and Ohio came in very close, coming in second and third with scores of 7 and 6.68 out of 10, respectively, which experts suggest could be due to large retiree populations and high searches for friendship apps like Bumble BFF.
Meanwhile, Utah was considered the least lonely state, as its large Mormon population has led to a low percentage of divorces and single-person households.
The findings come as San Mateo County in California’s Silicon Valley this week became the first in the United States to declare loneliness a public health emergency.
The US surgeon general has warned that the United States is facing an epidemic of loneliness that health authorities say is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
AginginPlace researchers wrote: “We’re especially concerned about the physical and mental well-being of those who are vulnerable, so we wanted to find out where in the U.S. struggles with loneliness the most and where people best maintain social connections. “.
The team analyzed data from the U.S. Census and national surveys to determine where states ranked in the following categories: population, percentage of single-person households, number of people widowed, number of people divorced, and dating app searches. and friendship.
Each state was then given a score out of 10 based on its ranking in each category, and the researchers took an average.
Maine was considered the loneliest state and It was tied with Nevada for the highest divorce rate: 14 percent.
The Pine Tree State also has one of the lowest state populations in the U.S., with just 1.3 million residents. And 31 percent of them live in single-person households, increasing the risk of loneliness.
Additionally, the state recorded the third-highest number of dating app searches at 425,000 per year, which is approximately 3,125 per 10,000 people.
Being socially disconnected is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in 2022 while testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.
The United States report on social isolation shows worrying results for the country of 340 million inhabitants.
Florida came in second, with a score of seven out of 10. Researchers said that because the Sunshine State has a large older retirement community, this increases the likelihood that residents will be divorced or widowed.
According to the results, seven percent of Florida residents are widowed, placing it among the five states with the highest number of widowers. Additionally, 13 percent of residents are divorced and 29 percent live alone.
Ohio came in third with an overall score of 6.68. Like Maine, about a third of its residents live alone, but Ohioans crave company.
The state, home to 11.7 million people, recorded more than three million dating app searches in 2021.
New Mexico was rated the fourth loneliest state with a score of 6.60, while Vermont rounded out the top five with a score of 6.28.
Vermont has the second-lowest state population, with 623,251 residents.
It ranked third among people living alone (31.64 percent) and second highest in number of dating app searches, with 3,167 per 10,000 people.
Meanwhile, Utah was considered the least lonely state in the country, with a score of just 0.72 out of 10.
Utah had the lowest number of single-person households (19.2 percent) and was tied with several other states for the fewest divorced residents (nine percent).
“The state has a huge Mormon community and more than half of Utahns identify as Mormon,” the researchers wrote.
“This may contribute to the low number of divorces and single-person households.”
Alaska was close behind with a score of 2.32.
Although the state has one of the lowest populations in the U.S., with 724,000 residents, researchers found that the Last Frontier state had the lowest number of residents who had lost a spouse: 3.8 percent.
Hawaii was considered the third least lonely state, with a score of 2.56 out of 10.
The researchers said its low score could be due to its “spectacular beaches and enjoyable weather”, which may encourage people to get outdoors and socialize more.
And even though San Mateo County declared loneliness a public health emergency, researchers found it is among the five least lonely states.
California, the most populous state in the United States with 39.6 million residents, ranked 48th loneliest, although its residents had the second highest number of searches for friendship apps.
Last year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, declared that loneliness would be the next major public health crisis, stating that social isolation was as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Dr Murthy said social isolation had “profound health and social consequences”, including a 30 per cent increased chance of heart disease.
He said: “We have an obligation to make the same investments to rebuild the social fabric of society that we have made to address other global health problems, such as tobacco use, obesity and the addiction crisis.”