The Grapevine

US Falls Behind Developing Nations In The Latest Healthiest Country Index

The U.S. did not make it to the top countries with the healthiest population in the latest edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index. 

Six countries in Europe was ranked among the top 10 nations, with Spain and Italy taking the first and second spots, respectively, CBS News reported on Monday. Other countries on the top list based on their ranks are Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway and Israel. However, the U.S. didn't even join the top 30 healthiest nations, with the country landing on the 35th spot. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen also ranked in the bottom 30. 

Bloomberg researchers ranked nations based on multiple factors, including life expectancy and health risks, such as obesity and tobacco use. Environmental factors were also assessed, including clean water and sanitation.

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. placed the country behind developing nations as the healthiest countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest estimates show that nearly 40 percent of American adults or up to 93.3 million people today are obese. Life expectancy in the U.S. was also found lower over the past years due to “deaths of despair,” including suicide and drug overdoses, with most citizens now more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car accidents.

The 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index backs earlier studies that also ranked 195 countries and territories around the world for life expectancy. Spain also ranked first in one recent study, which projected that life expectancy in the country would reach 85.8 years by 2040. In the same study, the U.S. took the 64th spot. 

Researchers said that eating a Mediterranean diet potentially contributed to longer population lives in Spain. The diet focuses on heart-healthy food, such as fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. Some studies show that Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, as well as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and cancer. Spain also provides a national health system focused on preventative care, which researchers said enables people to access healthcare easier than other countries.

Meanwhile, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa covered 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the Bloomberg list.