What are the healthiest countries to live in?

What are the healthiest countries to live in?

6th April, 2013

As an expat your country of origin plays a part in shaping your overall health. But the country you move to also plays a part, which is why I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the World Health Organisation’s latest Global Burden of Disease Study.

The ongoing research is an international collaboration funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It assesses health trends across 187 countries over decades at a time to identify the countries with the best and healthiest life expectancies, taking the number of deaths into account as well as the years people lost to disability.

Japan takes the top position for good health and longevity

Japan took the top place in the 1990 study and twenty years later it was still the healthiest place to live, both for men and women, but Europe also scored high. Perhaps surprisingly, the USA came 29th for healthy male life expectancy and 33rd for female healthy life expectancy.

Top ten countries for men’ s health and life expectancy

  1. Japan
  2. Singapore
  3. Switzerland
  4. Spain
  5. Italy
  6. Australia
  7. Canada
  8. Andorra
  9. Israel
  10. South Korea

Top ten countries for women’s health and life expectancy

  1. Japan
  2. Korea
  3. Spain
  4. Singapore
  5. Taiwan
  6. Switzerland
  7. Andorra
  8. Italy
  9. Australia
  10. France

Why are the people in some countries healthier than in others?

According to professor Joshua Salomon, one of the research team, it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons why the people in some countries are healthier, for longer, than in other countries. His best guess is that it’s a combination of factors including genetics and ‘healthy behaviours’ like a good diet and plenty of exercise.

Countries with the least healthy and lowest life expectancy for men   

  1. Burkina Faso
  2. Chad
  3. DRC
  4. Malawi
  5. Zimbabwe
  6. Mozambique
  7. Swaziland
  8. Central African Repbulic
  9. Lesotho
  10. Haiti

Countries with the least healthy and lowest life expectancy for women 

  1. Liberia
  2. Burundi
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Malawi
  5. Zimbabwe
  6. Mozambique
  7. Swaziland
  8. Lesotho
  9. Central African Republic
  10. Haiti

Living longer but less healthy lives

The study also revealed a disturbing trend. People are living longer than they did in 1990 but are also becoming less healthy, even in countries with long life expectancies. It’s an issue that is affecting rich and poor countries across the world. Women are living longer but are also spending longer in poor health, living with a disability for 11.5 years compared to an average of 9.2 years for men.

If you’d like to find out more, you’ll find the details here: Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.

Enjoy our detailed expat country guides

Would you like to know more about living as an expat? Why not download our free eBook, The New Expat, which covers the medical side of expat living, family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and plenty more to make your expat life easier. We also produce specific Country Guides each month, packed with detailed information to help you make the most of your new country.

Join the conversation    

If you have already moved abroad, did you notice your overall health improve? Do other people seem generally healthier in your new country than back home, or less healthy? Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter: @now_health or on the Now Health Facebook page so we can share them with our readers.

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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