Britain’s favourite expat destination has topped the world rankings as the world’s healthiest country.
The Mediterranean sunshine hotspot of Spain toppled the previous winner Italy into second place in a study of 169 nations – rising six places to take the lead.
Rounding out the top five were Iceland in third place, followed by Japan and Switzerland.
The least healthy countries were mainly in Africa’s sub-Sahara – joined by Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen.
The study, by media outlet Bloomberg, gave each country points for life expectancy and deducted points for health risks, such as tobacco use and obesity. Other factors were also considered, like access to clean water and sanitation.
Healthcare and diet
Spain scored well for longevity – just behind Switzerland and Japan – and is predicted to overtake them by 2040, when the average life will last for 86 years.
“Primary care is essentially provided by public providers, specialised family doctors and staff nurses, who provide preventive services to children, women and elderly patients, and acute and chronic care,” said a review of Spain by the European Observatory on Health Systems, pointing out that the nation had seen a steady decline in deaths from cancer and heart disease.
Another study, by the University of Navarra, suggests a diet supplemented by olive oil and nuts is less harsh than one based on reduced fat.
Spain is a popular destination for expats from all over Europe, but particularly a favourite of the British.
Prevention v cure
Estimates suggest around a million British expats live in Spain full-time, while the number is swollen by long stayers who live there for part of the year and millions of holiday-makers.
The USA (35thplace) scored poorly for such a developed nation, while undeveloped Cuba, the highest placed low income country, showed well (53rd).
Judges suggested Cuba’s preventative health care performed better than America’s policy of diagnosing and treating illness.
China (55), the most populous nation as home to 1.4 billion people, is expected to surpass America’s longevity by 2040.
Other destinations for British expats came in the top 20 – Australia (7) scored best; with Canada (16) and New Zealand (18) both leading the UK (19).
Healthiest countries in the world