Elderly man feeding fish in tank
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Plight of the 'chronically lonely' highlighted

18 October 2013 Last updated at 21:16 BST

It is a source of national shame that 800,000 older people in England say they are chronically lonely, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

In a speech he warned that loneliness was as harmful as "smoking 15 cigarettes a day" and "worse than obesity" because of the health risks.

He also suggested Britain should learn from Asian cultures, where there is "reverence and respect for older people."

Mark Easton reports.