Study: Loneliness is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

According to the Campaign, around 17 per cent of older people see friends, family and neighbours less than once a week, while one in 10 go for at least four weeks without seeing any loved ones.

A survey by the charity found that for two fifths of older people, almost 4 million, regard television as their major source of company.

Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe.