The ranking is based on data from the WHO, UN Population Division and World Bank.
According to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, Spain is the healthiest place in the world. The country moved up from 6th position in 2017 to a top spot, pushing Italy into second place. The index ranks 169 economies based on an analysis of data collected by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank.
The other countries in the top ten, in order, are Iceland, Japan (up from 7th place in 2017), Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore (down from 4th place), Norway and Israel. In North America, Canada placed 16th, the United States 35th and Mexico 53rd.
Key factors considered in the analysis include life expectancy, tobacco use, obesity and environmental issues, such as access to clean water and sanitation.
Switzerland, Japan and Spain have the highest life expectancies at birth. In the United States, life expectancy is actually declining owing to rising incidences of death to drug overdoses and suicides. The excellent health of the populations in Spain and Italy may be attributed to a Mediterranean diet and preventive healthcare programs.
Notably, Cuba ranked five places higher than the United States –– the highest position for a country not considered to be “high income” by the World Bank. Cuba also emphasizes preventive care rather than focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, which tends to be the case in the United States.
Countries raising several spots on the list include China, which climbed three spots to 52nd, and South Korea, which moved up seven places to 17th.
Sub-Saharan countries were found to be some of the unhealthiest nations, which is unsurprising given the high death rates due to communicable diseases in the region.