World’s healthiest countries (NZ ranked 18th)

The Bloomberg Global Health Index grades and ranks the health of countries around the world – These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations

Spain tops the chart, followed by Italy, Iceland, Japan and Switzerland.

Australia is 7th, New Zealand 18th and USA is 35th.

The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.

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 highest lifespan, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

“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.

Eating Habits

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,” according to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has been trending lower due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.

Sub-Saharan economies accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the ranking. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were the others. Mauritius was the healthiest in Sub-Sahara, placing 74th globally as it had the lowest death rate by communicable diseases in a region still marred by infectious mortality.

We know that our diets are important for improving our chances in the health lottery.

Instead of moving to Spain or Italy we could move more of Mediterranean style diet. I have done this to an extent over the years, and have substantially reduced how much I eat of meats and potatoes – as a child I never had savoury rice nor proper pasta, now I have them as much as potatoes. And the mutton fat of my childhood is distant history, now olive and canola oil are staples.

I don’t do supplements, which get heavily promoted these days. I think that food is best in it’s natural state rather than concocted and concentrated, and manufactured diet additions via pills are only good for exception situations, not standard diet.

Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  24th January 2020

    ”I don’t do supplements, which get heavily promoted these days. I think that food is best in it’s natural state rather than concocted and concentrated, and manufactured diet additions via pills are only good for exception situations, not standard diet.”

    I have to disagree with you, Pete. You are of course right. Good health starts with good food.
    There is no wriggle room there. Plants have a spectrum of phytonutrient, both known and still to be discovered.

    But, and it’s a big but, is your food healthy?. And is it providing adequate nutrients we need as we age. The answer in my opinion is no to a certain extent.

    Let’s take a look at the oils you mentioned. Olive Oil: Extra Virgin is the gold standard, but rancidity and widespread doctoring of this oil means it’s a lottery as to whether you are getting a good product. The best advice reiterated by some experts is buy local product if at all possible. And of course if it doesn’t come in dark glass bottles the risk of rancidity increases.

    Canola oil: This oil has health nutters doing weird contortions at its mention. Many question marks over its safety.

    Which is the best approach? Your approach of food as your medicine. Or my approach of food as your medicine supplemented with key nutrients known to be in short supply with ageing human bodies. I honestly don’t know. You run the risk of malnutrition. I run the risk of toxicity from concentrated nutrients.

    However there may be a middle ground. Supplements are moving towards plant based products and powders. Science now understands the limitations of synthetic vitamins.

    • Pete, I can’t see you ending up with malnutrition.

      We had pasta and rice dishes reasonably often. Never rice pudding; my mother was turned off that for life by being at boarding school. One of our simple childhood pleasures was taking the end of a strand of spaghetti and sucking it in. SPLAT !!! pasta sauce all over the face if one wasn’t careful. .

    • Corky

       /  24th January 2020

      I think it must be remembered RDA is based on minimum levels of nutrients average people need. It’s not based on optimal levels, or the fact the ageing bodies cannot process food as well as they once could. Worse, the body basically shuts down process it once used to provide youthful vigour. An example is DHEA. The lack of this hormone leads to decrepit old age. We equate malnutrition with skeletal Africans dying in the desert. Nothing could be further from the truth. Westerners are dying by the millions from malnutrition yearly.

  2. Corky

     /  24th January 2020

    Why are we ranked 18th on this index? To start with the index will never be able to take all factors into account. For example, in many European countries food is a sacrament, to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. In New Zealand food is for shovelling into your gob while on the move. Much of it is not home cooked. And of course our huge underclass. Take that out of the equation and I’m sure we would move into the top 10

    • David

       /  24th January 2020

      We have 3rd world access to pharmaceuticals and spend around a third on them per capita as comparable countries.
      In NZ though you are not allowed to critique Pharmac or this government just in case you find yourself on the side of big pharma.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  24th January 2020

        ‘food is for shovelling into your gob while on the move.’ Speak for yourself, please. Most people don’t think like that or act like that, although some undoubtedly do.

        There are untold cooking programmes, magazine articles and recipe books around. People must be using these or they’d disappear. There are many companies like My Food Bag and online grocery deliveries are commonplace. The size and number of supermarkets alone is an indication that people are buying groceries there and cooking them.

        People who go to restaurants like to spend time there, at least in good restaurants. I can’t speak for ‘restaurants’ like McDonalds and KFC as I never go there.

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