Italians Are the Healthiest People in the World: Report

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Could marinara sauce be the true fountain of youth? Italy has been ranked the healthiest country in the world, according to the Bloomberg Global Health Index.

Based on life expectancy, health risks, causes of death, and access to clean water and healthy foods, the Bloomberg Global Health Index found that Italy was the country with the highest quality in all of these aspects. In fact, a child born in Italy can expect to live well into his or her 80s.

Credit: G.steph.rocket/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

The healthfulness of Italians can be attributed to a few different things, such as their diet. Italian people are known to consume what has now been dubbed the Mediterranean Diet, rich in fresh vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and lean meats. This type of eating has gained popularity as many have seen the effects of such foods on a person’s health.

One study cites that consuming a Mediterranean Diet significantly reduces the risk of mortality from heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, consuming this type of diet rarely leads to obesity. In fact, only 10 percent of the general population in Italy are classified as obese, according to the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

Related: Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Another contributing factor to Italy’s healthy state is that there are so many doctors available for both routine visits and emergencies. The United Nations Human Development Reports found that for every 10,000 people in Italy, there are 38 physicians. In other countries, the average number of physicians is between 20 and 30, while in some third world countries it can be as low as nine.

Credit: Michiel Jelijs/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Despite economic setbacks and a high unemployment rate, Italy boasts the healthiest population in the world, with an average life expectancy of about 83 years old. Of the 163 countries on the list, many European countries ranked in the top 25. The United States, on the other hand, ranked 34th on the list. This is due primarily to the extremely high and prevalent rates of obesity in the country.

While Italy may rank highest in health, happiness does not reach the same levels. The World Happiness Report places Italy in the 48th spot out of 155 countries around the globe. In contrast, the United States was ranked 14th. These statistics are based on job satisfaction, stress and other factors.

The healthy habits of the average Italian can lead to a long life without any major health complications, and these habits can be emulated by other countries. The culture is known for enjoying rich foods and plenty of wine, in moderation. The full list of countries ranked by Bloomberg can be found in the Global Report.

Related: Here Are the Happiest Cities in America

Marissa DiPietro
Marissa is a health and fitness writer from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to researching the latest trending topics, she enjoys instructing kickboxing classes and posting incessantly to her Instagram account.