A report released on February 24, 2019, showed that the U.S. is ranked 35th in health worldwide. This study, the “Bloomberg 2019 Healthiest Country Index” ranks the countries with the 169 largest economies according to factors that contribute to overall health.
This study showed that the U.S. has dropped one ranking from 34th to 35th from the prior report in 2017. The U.S. trails almost all modern industrial nations in health. But what may seem shocking is that the U.S. also is behind the nations of Costa Rica, Cuba, Croatia, Chile, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. The countries that are just below the U.S. include Bahrain, Qatar, Maldives, and Lebanon.
Spain tops the list as the healthiest nation in the world, surpassing Italy who was on top in the prior report. The top ten healthiest nations according to the report are: Spain, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway, and Israel.
In creating the ranking, the index grades countries on multiple factors such as life expectancy, obesity, tobacco use, availability to clean water, environmental factors, and sanitation. Japan and Switzerland have the overall longest life expectancy, with Spain being just behind them and expected to overtake them in the coming years.
In explaining why Spain does so well in health ranking, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain noted that in that country, “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.”
The report points out that the U.S. life expectancy has been decreasing over the past several years. This decrease and the subsequent lowering of the health ranking as compared to other nations is primarily due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.
Another factor sited as a reason for the U.S. performing badly is the epidemic of obesity. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. This equates to about 93.3 million obese Americans.
Dr. George Curry, a chiropractor and president of the International Chiropractors Association added a chiropractic perspective on the U.S. ranking. “The U.S. spends the most money by far on medical care. Additionally, Americans take vastly more drugs than people in any other nation. These factors, combined with diet and a tendency to over-treat many conditions, leads to a less healthy population that we see reflected in this report.”