Soon after it was reported that Israelis are (still) among the happiest people in the world, a new study confirms that Israel is also among the top 10 healthiest.
The study, published ahead of tomorrow’s World Health Day, observed annually on April 7th, ranks Israel in 9th place out of 163 countries in terms of overall health.
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Israel: Good access to doctors, high blood pressure
The Bloomberg Global Health Index gives Israel an overall “health score” of 92.47, based on factors such as quality of care, access to doctors, number of hospital beds, availability of medication, and life expectancy. On the other hand, Israel lost points (4.33) because of health and lifestyle problems, including overeating, and health risks ranging from high blood pressure and tobacco use to malnutrition and the availability of clean water. Israel’s overall score was 88.14, ahead of nearly all of Europe, and far ahead of the U.S., which placed only 34th in the rankings, with a score of 73.05.
Most Healthy: Italy
With a score of 93.11, Italy took the top spot as the world’s healthiest country, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia. Spain, Japan and Sweden ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. At the ninth slot, Israel outranked all other Middle Eastern countries, as well as many larger countries including France (14), Germany (16), New Zealand (19), Britain (23) and South Korea (24).
According to the report, the reason Italy won is that Italians are in much better shape than Americans, Canadians and Brits, who all suffer from higher blood pressure and cholesterol and poorer mental health. The U.S., meanwhile, despite its wealth of health care, is “one of the world’s heaviest nations,” and as such cannot be considered “healthy.”
The key to Italy’s top ranking may be their diet, which is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and red wine. Several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet with reduced aging, a healthier brain, more weight loss, and a lowered cancer risk, among other benefits.
Major challenge: Obesity
According to the report, obesity is a prime risk in the developed world. The U.S. prevalence of overweight people is 67.3 — tipping the scale as one of the world’s heaviest nations. Obesity is also a major problem in Israel, particularly among the country’s children.
However, Bloomberg’s list is not the final word on which nations are truly the most healthy, or unhealthy. Within each nation, the growing disparity between rich and poor means that while some families have access to the best health care and the freshest foods, many others do not.
The study came on the heels of the results of another survey published on the occasion of World Happiness Day (celebrated annually on March 20th), in which Israel was ranked the 11th happiest nation out of 165 countries.
Pictures: Bloomberg, Pixabay