Spain is the healthiest country in the world, according to a study of 169 nations.
After climbing six rungs from 2017 and pushing Italy from first spot, Spain now ranks at the top of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which considers several factors that contribute to overall health, such as life expectancy at birth, sanitation and health services.
The index classifies nations according to variables such as life expectancy, tobacco use and obesity. Environmental factors like access to clean water and sanitation are also taken into account.
Spain has the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations, and trails only Japan and Switzerland globally, United Nations data show. Spain by 2040 is forecast to have the longest lifespan, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The Bloomberg index underscores the impact of the Spanish public health system and Spanish eating habits.
“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,” according to the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain, noting a decline the past decade in cardiovascular diseases and deaths from cancer.
Researchers say eating habits may provide clues to health levels enjoyed by Spain and Italy, as a “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,”