Spain tops Bloomberg's list of world's healthiest nations

Illustrative. Elderly people enjoying the morning sun in the southern city of Ashkelon

Illustrative. Elderly people enjoying the morning sun in the southern city of Ashkelon

SPAIN is the healthiest country in the world, and that's official. However, Luxembourg remains ahead of France (12), Portugal (22), Germany (23), and Belgium (28).

Italy was beaten to first place by neighbouring Spain in the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies worldwide.

Iceland came in third place, Japan fourth, Switzerland fifth, Sweden sixth, Australia seventh, Singapore eighth and Norway ninth.

The index evaluated nations on variables that include life expectancy while deducting points for health risks like smoking or obesity. Spain jumped several spots to become listed as the healthiest country in the world-one spot above Italy. The ranking also looks closely at environmental factors like drinkable 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.

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The Bloomberg index underscores the impact of the Spanish public health system and Spanish eating habits.

People in Spain also benefit from a national health system focused on preventative care, according to a review by The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, which praised its "principles of universality, free access, equity and financial fairness".

Cuba occupies 30th position, the only low-income country to be ranked so high, and five places above the USA, ranked 35th. The Mediterranean diet, rich in extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, is responsible for a lower rate of cardiovascular disorders, compared with countries with a high-fat diet, Bloomberg said.

Cuba placed five spots above the U.S., making it the only nation not classified as "high income" by the World Bank to be ranked that high.

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