Spain Tops List of World's Healthiest Countries

Bloomberg's Healthiest Country Index ranked Spain as the healthiest country in the world in 2019, beating out Italy. Healthy eating habits and the Mediterranean diet are mainly responsible for the increase.

Feb. 26, 2019
By Danielle Pacheco

Recent News

The lat­est find­ings from Bloomberg have ranked Spain as the health­i­est coun­try in the world, largely due to the coun­try’s ten­dency to con­sume a Mediterranean diet with extra vir­gin olive oil and nuts.

The 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index ranked 169 World Health Organization states for their over­all health based on data from the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank.

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Data was ana­lyzed in the con­text of health vari­ables, such as behav­ior, envi­ron­ment and life expectancy as well as risk fac­tors, such as obe­sity, high blood pres­sure and tobacco use.

Spain jumped five places to beat out Italy, for­merly the health­i­est nation accord­ing to the 2017 Bloomberg study. Spain scored an over­all health grade of 92.8 out of 100. Other top 10 coun­tries were Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway and Israel.

Researchers hypoth­e­sized that the excep­tional health of Spain’s cit­i­zens was largely due to their eat­ing habits. Like Italy, Spain’s adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet, with a focus on extra vir­gin olive oil and nuts, has been shown to be health­ier than a low-fat diet in pro­tect­ing against major car­dio­vas­cu­lar events.


Bloomberg sug­gested this might be one rea­son coun­tries with a low-fat diet, such as Japan, did not score quite as high. The Mediterranean diet has also been linked to healthy brain aging, lower risk of depres­sion, lower risk of stroke in women, a lower risk of obe­sity and a host of other ben­e­fits.

Spain also earned praise for its pub­lic health sys­tem, notably its empha­sis on pre­ven­ta­tive care for chil­dren, women and elderly patients. According to the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, the Mediterranean coun­try has seen a decline in car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and deaths from can­cer over the last decade.

According to U.N. data, Spain enjoys the high­est life expectancy in the E.U. and the third high­est glob­ally, behind Japan and Switzerland. By 2040, it is pre­dicted that the aver­age per­son born in Spain will have a life expectancy of almost 86 years at birth, which would be the high­est in the world.

Canada and the United States came in six­teenth and thirty-fifth in the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, respec­tively. Meanwhile, Cuba ranked thir­ti­eth, mak­ing it the high­est-rank­ing nation that is not con­sid­ered a high income” coun­try by the World Bank.

China came in fifty-sec­ond and the Asian coun­try is expected to enjoy a higher life expectancy than the United States by the year 2040. Sub-Saharan nations rep­re­sented 27 of the 30 least healthy nations in the Bloomberg study, along with Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen.


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