UAE only 46th healthiest nation on Earth due to eating habits
The UAE has been ranked just 46th place in Bloomberg’s annual Healthiest Country Index. It ranks 169 economies according to factors that contribute to overall health, including eating habits, obesity, tobacco use and primary care.
Spain claimed the top spot, with the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations (it trails just Japan and Switzerland). Italy, Iceland, Japan and Switzerland rounded out the top five healthiest countries in the world.
Several Middle Eastern nations made the list (just not very high up). The UAE came in 46th place while Oman sits at the 49th position on the table.
According to researchers, eating habits played a large role in deciding which country was the healthiest. The ‘Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than those assigned to a reduced-fat diet,” said one study by the University of Navarra Medical School.
The list also takes into account several behavioural and environmental factors – such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, access to clean air and water as well as sanitation facilities.
Sub-Saharan economies accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the ranking table, along with Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen.
For the first time, the United States slipped down to 35th place (with Canada moving up to 16th healthiest country in the world). Life expectancy in the US has been getting lower, mainly due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.
Cuba placed five spots above the US (making it the only nation not classified as ‘high-income’ by the World Bank to be rated so highly). It’s suggested that the small country’s emphasis on preventative healthcare over diagnosis and treatment may be the cause.
Recently, the UAE has taken measures to ensure its population gets fitter and healthier than ever. Now in its third year, the Dubai Fitness Challenge takes place each October. The 30-day challenge sees free fitness classes take place around the city, with free advice handed out by the UAE government on how best to stay lean.
World-class healthcare is also one of the six pillars of the National Agenda in line with Vision 2021. It’s tasked with bolstering the country’s medical services, as well as reducing cardiovascular disease and obesity amongst children.