View Full Version : Italy’s Struggling Economy Has World’s Healthiest People (Bloomberg)

Pax Augusta
21-03-17, 03:48
Italy’s Struggling Economy Has World’s Healthiest People

When it comes to living a long life, Italy is the place to be.

The high-heeled boot surrounded by five seas is ranked the healthiest country on Earth in the Bloomberg Global Health Index of 163 countries. A baby born in Italy can expect to live to be an octogenarian. But 2,800 miles south in Sierra Leone, the average newborn will die by 52.

While Italy is among the most developed countries, growth has stagnated for decades, almost 40 percent of its youngsters are out of jobs and it’s saddled with one of the world’s highest debt loads relative to the size of its economy. Yet Italians are in way better shape than Americans, Canadians and Brits, who all suffer from higher blood pressure and cholesterol and poorer mental health.

Italy also has “an excess of doctors,” said Tom Kenyon, a physician and CEO of the global relief organization Project Hope. Case in point, one of the country’s most watched and long-running television shows is called “A Doctor in the Family.”

Then there is the diet, rich in vegetables and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, has written about the importance of consumers having access to fresh produce, fruit, lean meats and fish.


Each country in the index was graded based on variables such as life expectancy, causes of death and health risks ranging from high blood pressure and tobacco use to malnutrition and the availability of clean water.

Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia rounded out the top five most-healthy countries in the index.

The developed world isn’t without its risks — obesity among them. The U.S. placed No. 34 with a health grade of 73.05 out of 100. It's ranking for prevalence of overweight people is 67.3 — tipping the scale as one of the world’s heaviest nations.

The poorest states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia — are heaviest with more than 35 percent of their populations considered obese, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control.



21-03-17, 05:02
I personally believe that stress shortens life significantly. Having to work longer hours is highly stressful and unnatural, yet 40 hr work weeks are very common in the US.

Chronic, prolonged stress is harmful and degrades the human body rapidly.

Pax Augusta
21-03-17, 05:31
I personally believe that stress shortens life significantly. Having to work longer hours is highly stressful and unnatural, yet 40 hr work weeks are very common in the US.

Chronic, prolonged stress is harmful and degrades the human body rapidly.

Italy enacts a 40-hour normal working week, and a maximum 48-hour work week.

21-03-17, 07:41
Italy is beautiful, weather is perfect and people have the right attitude to food (only the best), work (not a culture of workoholics), leisure and pleasure (no feeling of guilt). I am very happy for Italians.

21-03-17, 16:06
If Italians would stop with the infernal smoking, maybe salt their food less, and young men, in particular, weren't such madmen when driving, and there were fewer car accidents, the numbers would be even better. I would think that the other countries in the top five have better numbers for these things?

The diet is a big part of it, and no overindulgence in alcohol, and walking and moving around. Culture is certainly important as well; culture may influence individuals, but individuals also create the culture. I believe that physical and mental health are both very affected by the quality of one's personal relationships. There are a myriad of studies to the effect that the more friends you have, the closer your familial bonds, the more tied you feel to your community, the healthier you are in both body and mind. As people age, that's still very important.

What they didn't mention, but what is also important, is genetics. We still have a lot to learn about that aspect of everyone's health.

The "Dolce Vita", "Under the Tuscan Sun" stereotype is alive and well, it seems. :) I do think that Italians in general, to Dagne's point, are not guilt ridden over pleasure of any kind, and I do think they know how to "enjoy" life. However, my Italian relatives have to work very hard. Given that so many of them don't want to leave their "homes", they often have killer commutes. Way more than an hour each way is nothing. Then, a lot of them work in city centers. If there's a long "lunch" break, which there often isn't, there's no time to go home and "rest", so the time is spent doing errands at the stores that are open. That means they're not home until past 8 o'clock.

Also, there's absolutely no more stressful situation than being unable to find a job. In many countries men who lose their jobs turn to alcohol and wreak havoc on their wives and children. There's some of that in Italy too, but thankfully our domestic abuse numbers are not anywhere near as high as in many other places. Our young people are particularly hard hit by this "stagnation". The "brain drain" to other countries is a fact.

So, lack of stress, as the article is implying, is not the reason, although maybe the stress is "handled".

I also don't mean to imply that it's paradise, or life is perfect there so long as you have a good job. It isn't.

24-03-17, 02:10
and I had a feeling that long-time life was in genes,.

27-03-17, 07:58
My totally ungrounded opinion is that good health is because of good mood which is by 2/3 determined by good weather.

27-03-17, 16:02
My totally ungrounded opinion is that good health is because of good mood which is by 2/3 determined by good weather.Positive feedback loop, because good mood comes from good health too. I agree about the weather, sun makes me happy. Also listening to happy music, exercising - being strong, financial security, Vitamin D3, a partner who loves you.
It is possible to wake up happy every morning. :)

Pax Augusta
27-03-17, 16:55
My totally ungrounded opinion is that good health is because of good mood which is by 2/3 determined by good weather.

Good weather? Well, at least 1/3 of Italy hasn't a Mediterranean climate that starts with coastal Liguria/Tuscany, but even in inner Central-Southern Italy because of Appennines isn't a always a true Mediterranean climate.

Of course if you compare Italy to the northernmost Europe, it's pretty good anywhere in Italy.

Italy in Winter


Italy under the snow

Koppen classification


Other classification


28-03-17, 14:32
Everything is relative, right? For Europe, I think Italy has great weather. Also, yes, our mountain ranges get a lot of snow, but a tiny percentage of the Italian population now lives in them.

I was blessed and was born in that dab of bright yellow that goes inland from the Ligurian coast. Yes, in the winter months we can have prolonged periods of grey skies and heavy rains, so heavy that we are prone to floods, but the rest of the year it's paradise. Even the hottest part of the summer isn't unbearable because of the sea breezes. That climate has been part of the reason for tourism here for a very long time, from all the English Romantic poets to the Imperial Russians. The only place I know of that might have a better climate and landscape is the Amalfi Coast.

As for snowy winters, I'm fine with it (maybe my father's genes :)) for a few months, but by February I'm getting a serious case of the blues. I start really yearning for the sun and some color. My mother was even worse. She had only ever seen snow once or twice in her life until she moved to the U.S. as a wife and mother. When she landed and looked out at about five feet of filthy, snow and slush she started crying, and while I know it wasn't really the case, I remember her always crying for the first few years. I did my own share of crying too.

We left in late October. This is what it looked like then:

This is what home looks like now, while I'm staring out at a black and white world. Not even the crocus has poked its head up yet.

That said, Pax is right in that some areas in Italy have a terrible climate. The very worst, in my opinion, is the Valley of the Po: it's incredibly damp and humid all the time, cold in winter and brutally hot in summer. The landscape is also flat and featureless. Of course, that flat earth is fertile and well-watered and our biggest source of food.

I'm not so sure of the big correlation between "happiness" and health. It's one factor, but only one factor. The Italians are not particularly "happy" ever, imo, if by that someone means a sort of bovine contentment, and they're certainly not happy nowadays.

Genes are a big part of it, I think. However, a good life style probably lessens the chances that your "advantageous" genes will mutate too early and will moderate the effect of the disadvantageous ones you already possess.

28-03-17, 21:44
all my life I believe 3 things for long life,

1 Genes
2 fresh green food and variety, eat different dishes each day, and add something fresh smell like parsley, fresh onion, spearmint, basilikos, ment, rosemary, lemon etc
3 less meat and animal fat and milk and butter and sugar more yogurt honey and dry nuts and add some roughage to your bread to reduce glutones bad action.

fresh parsley is richest in vitamin C

last days I have a forth thing,
avoid rich in Glutamin Natrium and other adds of flavours and conservatives,
but I still believe primary is genes, and secondary food, and weather is the last factor,
offcourse if you eat burgers and fresh fries, or a fat pizza and sodas every day, not even genes can save you

I say genes cause a Northen can consume more meat and animal fat without big problem of cholesterine than a Southern
a heavy worker or an athlete needs to consume more proteins than the one who does a siting job and life,
we turn the enviroment to our genes, but slowly nature also made her small choice the milleniums before,
but the last days Marketing has made all of us fools,
I read recently about Vitamin D, and I stayed astonished,
Mediterreneans today eat garbage, and have less vitamin D than North Europe,
although it should be the oposite, yet it is not