Bloomberg: The Healthiest Countries In The World, Ranked

The Mercado de San Miguel Market in Madrid, Spain.Gary Bembridge/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Easy access to primary care and healthy foods helped Spain take the top spot, while the U.S. placed 35th.

Bloomberg recently released the 2019 edition of its Healthiest Country Index, ranking 169 countries based on a variety of factors that constitute overall health. Spain, which placed sixth in the previous report, took the title this year of the world's healthiest country and knocked Italy from its first place spot into second. Four other European countries made the top 10, and Japan took over Singapore as Asia's healthiest nation by placing fourth and eighth, respectively. Meanwhile, the U.S. took an underwhelming 35th place spot.

The index takes into account both individual variables such as life expectancy and tobacco use and environmental factors like access to clean water. Spain ranks third in the world for highest life expectancy at birth after Japan and Switzerland, according to United Nations Data. By 2040, Spain is projected to have the highest lifespan at 86 years. "Primary care is essentially provided by public providers, specialized family doctors and staff nurses, who provide preventive services to children, women and elderly patients, and acute and chronic care," the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain observed, citing a decline in deaths from cancer and cardiovascular diseases as evidence for the country’s commitment to public health.

Researchers say that eating habits in Spain and Italy also provide insight into why the countries set the global standard in overall health. According to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School, “Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than those assigned to a reduced-fat diet.”

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