All countries aren’t created equal, and there are a variety of factors that contribute to healthy, happy countries – as well as factors that contribute to unhealthy countries. Typically, the healthiest countries are those that are developed. These countries have lower pollution rates, access to quality health care, and access to clean, safe drinking water. On the other hand, unhealthy countries may not have access to clean drinking water or health care. Diseases run rampant. Pollution may be high, leading to health problems, illnesses, and death. The life expectancy of the residents of these countries is low, and infant mortality is high. Quality of life is dramatically lower than in the more developed countries.
The Bloomberg Global Health Index takes a look at several of these factors to rank the healthiest (and unhealthiest) countries in the world. The factors that are used to rank the countries include:
- Health risks (tobacco use, high blood pressure, obesity)
- Availability of clean water
- Life expectancy
- Causes of death
Using these factors, the index ranks each country out of a score of 100. According to the 2019 ranking, Spain is considered to have the healthiest people globally, with a score of 92.75. Spain boasts a life expectancy of 83.5 years, which is expected to rise to 85.8 by 2040 and be the highest in the world.
Although Spain is known for smoking, drinking a lot of wine, and staying up late, their everyday diet and lifestyle choices set them above the rest. Spain’s diet is a Mediterranean diet filled with healthy fats and legumes, and less red meat and processed foods. Spaniards also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and walk almost everywhere that they can. Spain has the highest percentage of walkers in Europe, with 37% walking to work instead of driving (only 6% of Americans walk to work). Additionally, Spain’s universal healthcare program is very successful, and they have managed to lower their rate of preventable deaths to 45.4 preventable deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
Other countries that ranked high for health include Italy, Iceland, Japan, and Switzerland. Factors including outdoor activities and exercise, high-quality health care, and healthy diets are just a few of the things that contribute to these nations’ healthier lifestyles and higher life expectancies.
The top 10 healthiest countries, according to the Bloomberg Global Health Index, are listed below in the order they were ranked.