Loneliness and the metabolic syndrome in a population-based sample of middle-aged and older adults

Health Psychol. 2010 Sep;29(5):550-4. doi: 10.1037/a0020760.


Objective: This study evaluated the association between loneliness and the metabolic syndrome, which refers to a clustering of factors that have been shown to increase risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and mortality. A secondary purpose was to evaluate whether age moderated the association between loneliness and the metabolic syndrome.

Design: Participants were 52 to 79 years old, and they were drawn from a population-based survey of people 50 years of age and older living in England (N = 3211). They completed a self-report measure of loneliness and a nurse visit that included collection of blood pressure, blood sample, and anthropometric measures.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported loneliness and the metabolic syndrome.

Results: After controlling for demographic variables and smoking status, loneliness was significantly associated with increasing likelihood of meeting criteria for the metabolic syndrome and with the individual criterion of central obesity. The association between loneliness and the metabolic syndrome was not moderated by age.

Conclusion: Results suggest that loneliness is associated with the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, the metabolic syndrome may be among the pathways by which loneliness increases risk of morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose