In Brief

Singapore tops list of world's healthiest countries – UK fails to make the top 20

Health scores based on smoking and obesity leave Britain lagging behind Belgium, Ireland and Norway

Singapore has been named the world's healthiest country in a new list compiled by Bloomberg. However, the UK failed to make it into the top 20 healthiest countries, according to the data supplied by the United Nations, World Bank and World Health Organisation.

How were the rankings calculated?

Each country was given a health score based on factors such as life expectancy, common causes of death, the proportion of young people who smoke, levels of obesity and the number of immunisations administered.

Who came top and who came bottom?

Italy and Australia came second and third respectively, while Israel, in sixth place, was the only Middle Eastern country in the top ten. No North or South American country made it into the top ten. The UK failed to make it into the top 20, ranking 21st, behind Belgium, Ireland and Norway. Swaziland was deemed the least healthy country, with other African nations dominating the bottom of the list.

Ten healthiest countries

1 Singapore

2 Italy

3 Australia

4 Switzerland

5 Japan

6 Israel

7 Spain

8 Netherlands

9 Sweden

10 Germany

Ten unhealthiest countries

1 Swaziland

2 Lesotho

3 Democratic Republic of Congo

4 Chad

5 Mozambique

6 Burundi

7 Malawi

8 Angola

9 Uganda

10 Cameroon

What does 'healthy' mean?

The World Economic Forum has questioned the terms of the study, arguing that a ranking that defines health by "quality of life" rather than "life expectancy" could include lower-income countries, which report higher levels of life satisfaction. Despite being ranked in the bottom five by Bloomberg, for example, Chad was earlier this year revealed to have the world's healthiest diet.

Nevertheless, the World Economic Forum said the data was a "useful guide for policy makers, who might look at the practices of higher-scoring countries to improve their own countries' health scores".

According to The Independent, the study also revealed that a rise in the consumption of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables is being offset by a "concerning" increase in the amount of junk food being eaten.

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