Researchers at the University of Kent say that councils and health trusts should work together to identify and help lonely people.
In a new report published this week, the 'Campaign to End Loneliness' suggests that feeling isolated can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and that people who are experiencing severe loneliness may visit their GP more often, and enter residential care earlier.
The group is calling for authorities to use existing data to locate the most lonely or isolated residents - through 'loneliness maps' - so they can be offered the appropriate support services.
TV presenter Esther Rantzen is visiting a a respite holiday centre in Southampton later today. Her visit comes after a report from the Office of National Statistics revealed that a third of people over fifty feel lonely.
Esther is working with the charity Vitalise to raise awareness about the issue. The centres provide breaks with care for people with disabilities, who otherwise wouldn't get out of their homes.