Spain topples Italy as the world’s healthiest country while the US slips below Cuba at number 35
Viva la españa! With balmy weathers, Mediterranean diet and fascinating history, Spain has tangoed to the top of the list and has become the world’s healthiest country toppling former numero uno Italy. Bloomberg came out with this list after crunching the numbers from the UN, World Bank and World Health Organization, and then scored 169 nations on a range of factors from life expectancy to obesity, tobacco use, air quality and access to clean water.
Six of the top 10 countries were in Europe, with Italy ranking second. In contrast, the United States didn’t even break into the top 30, ranking at number 35, one notch worse than last year and 5 spots below Cuba.
The results show Spain has risen up the rankings from 6th place the previous year, pushing Italy down into second place. Iceland, Japan and Switzerland follow closely behind, in a list that demonstrates the correlation between health and wealth.
The results mirror other research that came out last fall looking at future life expectancies in 195 countries and territories around the world. In that study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, Spain also ranked first, with a projected life expectancy of 85.8 years by 2040. The United States ranked 64th.
It is estimated that Spain spends about 10% of its GDP on healthcare. Spain also ranks highly in lists of healthcare systems around the world. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, for example, recently has also listed Spain as one of the healthiest countries in the world.
Experts say the eating habits of the Mediterranean diet may provide clues for why Spain and Italy enjoy such good health. This heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, along with healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados.
In Asia, South Korea improved seven spots to 17th while China, home to 1.4 billion people, rose three places to 52nd. Life expectancy in China is on track to surpass the U.S. by 2040, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the Bloomberg rankings. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were also in the bottom 30.
Image credits: Bloomberg