Australia places a lot of importance on good health, but there are still some other countries leading the way.
A closer look at Sweden might give us some tips.
Sweden is the second healthiest country in the world behind Iceland, according to Forbes magazine. It’s home to 9.5 million people and considers itself as one of the world’s most advanced societies.
When it comes to healthy living, the Swedes know how to do it. Swedish people have a life expectancy of almost 82 years, according to the OECD Better Life Health Index. Women can expect to reach 84 and men 80, which is actually the same as Australia. So where is Sweden outperforming us?
Some credit Sweden’s good health to its clean air and innovative environmental policies. Pollution is so low in Sweden, it ranks as the cleanest country in the world. Plus 95 per cent of Swedish people say they’re satisfied with their country’s water quality, compared to 91 per cent in Australia.
Swedish people enjoy a diet high in fish, so they have a good intake of omega fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Unlike a lot of Western countries where food is commonly cooked in oil, the Swedes use healthier cooking techniques, including poaching, fermenting, smoking and drying to prepare meals.
This helps explain why Sweden’s obesity rate is incredibly low. Just 11.8 per cent of adults are obese compared to a huge 36 per cent in the US. The OECD average is 18 per cent while Australia’s is 28.3.
Swedish people value good quality health care. In fact, the Swedish government devotes 9.6 per cent of its GDP to health care.
But perhaps the best way to assess a country’s health is to actually ask people, “Are you healthy?” Based on this question, 81 per cent of Swedish people said they were in good health. These figures are well above the OECD average of 68 per cent.
Of course, there’s much more to health than keeping your body in good shape. And even by holistic health standards, Sweden sets an impressive benchmark.
Life satisfaction, or how people evaluate their life as a whole, shows Swedes are healthier and happier than most.
When asked to rate their general happiness out of 10, they responded with a 7.2 average. This is compared to the OECD average of 6.6.
With healthy diets, a clean environment and a top-class healthcare system, it’s no wonder Sweden is home to some of the world’s healthiest people.