The study’s results reveal that economic health doesn’t always mean actual health — surprisingly low rankings for G20 countries
Recent analyses show that being large and wealthy as a nation doesn’t necessarily lead to having a happy and healthy population. Considering a number of different factors, the Global Wellness Index and Bloomberg’s Healthiest Country Index announced their results of global health and wellbeing.
Even though Canada ranked as the world’s best, it’s becoming clearer that a new trend is emerging. The new Global Wellness Index analysis reveals that the world’s smallest countries generally dominate the top of the charts while bigger countries with booming economies drop back.
The fact that smaller nations are starting to occupy the top ranks might be tied to the fact that researchers are developing new metrics — such that do not necessarily link economic health to actual health.
“While rich countries tend to lead, many emerging economies score more highly than some advanced nations. This is down to huge increases in life expectancy in these countries in recent years,” said Richard Davies, a former Bank of England and UK Treasury economist who compiled the Index.
The Index considers a number of factors that influence the overall ranking of a country. These metrics include blood pressure, blood glucose, obesity, depression, happiness, alcohol use, tobacco use, exercise, healthy life expectancy, and government spending on healthcare.
The reasons for Canada scoring so high are good results for blood pressure, life expectancy and government healthcare spending. What’s more, the Index also considers the overall happiness of the nation — Canada’s happiness was ranked seventh highest on a global scale for years 2015–2017.
G20 countries scored surprisingly low
On the other hand, the G20 countries didn’t score all too well. Although these countries have high GDP — and therefore can spend more on healthcare — they are also prone to higher rates of depression and obesity, and therefore scoring lower.
Big and economically strong countries, such as Germany, France, Italy or Japan, didn’t make it to the top 25 list. The reason for that was mainly bad scores for blood pressure. The UK ranked 15th with poor scores for obesity and inactivity. The US ended up 37th in the list, mainly due to poor scores for obesity, inactivity, depression, and other factors.
“The low scores for countries like South Africa — an economy lauded for its growth rate in the 2000s — shows that simply ranking an economy based on traditional economic metrics like GDP alone can miss important parts of the story when it comes to the well-being of a nation,” said Davies.
The Indigo Wellness Index considers findings of the World Health Organisation, the World Happiness Report, and public health data.
You can view the complete results of the Indigo Wellness Index, powered by LetterOne, on the Global Perspectives website.
Spain’s diet might be the secret to a longer life
The Global Wellness Index follows the news of Spain becoming the healthiest country in the world, according to the 2019 Bloomberg’s Healthiest Country Index.
The 2019 Index ranked 169 countries across a range of different metrics. Similarly to the Wellness Index, it considers factors such as life expectancy, tobacco use, or obesity. However, it also takes into consideration environmental factors like access to clean water and sanitation.
Spain has the highest life expectancy among the EU nations — the country’s average life expectancy is predicted to be 86 years by 2040.
The country has seen a drop from cardiovascular diseases and death from cancer in the past decade. “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,” according to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School.
As in the Wellness Index, the US did not end up as the top dog, either. The country’s life expectancy has decreased due to drug overdosing and suicides.
Based on current observations, life expectancy in China might surpass the US by 2040.