According to Bloomberg (the well-known company that performs data analysis and much more), in 2019 Spain is the healthiest country in the world. But how did they measure countries’ health? We are not just talking about healthcare quality. In fact, Bloomberg calculated the so-called health grade (which determines the final ranking) by subtracting health risk penalties from the health score. Health risks include tobacco use, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, childhood malnutrition, basic vaccination coverage, availability of clean water and sanitation facilities. The health score is determined by life expectancy, mortality and neonatal survival. It is evident that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risks, and better environment conditions improve the score, resulting in a high grade.

Looking at Bloomberg’s ranking, Europe passes the exam with the best grades: 6 European countries appear in the top 10, and 13 in the top 20. In 2019, Spain overcame Italy, keeping the lead in the Mediterranean area. This should raise a first important point. In Spain and Italy, people drink wine and smoke a lot, but the diet is an amazing shield against diseases. I’ve already told you here about advantages of the Mediterranean diet. Abundance of fruit, vegetables, healthy fats and legumes, together with little red meat and processed food, guarantees a reduced risk of obesity, cardiac and metabolic diseases. Merits of Spain include also a very efficient healthcare system and a high percentage of walkers. Walkers? Yup, I really mean “people who walk”. Were you thinking that the physical activity recommended by any doctor around the world implies hours spent working out in the gym, or running around your whole town? Not really. 10 minutes walking per day are enough to fight the risk of metabolic and cardiac diseases. Then if you walk at fast pace, maybe for 20 minutes, even better. But a little movement is sufficient. So, Spain, where gyms are definitely not people’s first choice for the free time, becomes the country with the best health grade in the world.

So, Bloomerg confirms once more that you are what you eat

What about the other countries? Japan is the first Asian country, taking the 4th place, while North America is represented first by Canada in 16th position. USA are in 35th position and Mexico in 53rd, just below China. Bloomergs explains that USA low ranking is related mainly to low life expectancy due to high numbers of suicides and drug-related deaths. Australia ranked well, in 7th position. The Sub-Saharan countries occupy 27 of the last 30 positions (the others are taken by Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti). Mauritius is the first ranked among the Sub-Saharan countries, in 74th position.

In conclusion, it is evident (and not surprising) that healthy countries are the richest one, benefitting from lower pollution rate and better healthcare services and lifestyle, while poor countries pay the price of diseases due to high pollution and lack of sanitation services, clean water and efficient healthcare, all of which reduce life expectancy and increase death rate (including infant mortality).