According to a new Bloomberg index, Singapore is the healthiest country in Asia and ranked the fourth healthiest in the world.

The country was deemed healthier than Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, ranked fifth, seventh, 19th and 34th respectively, in the Bloomberg 2017 Healthiest Country Index, published on 20 March.

This comes after Singapore's healthcare system was praised - two days ago in a New York Times article and previously in December - and was taken as an example that the United States should follow.

Most recent data used in Bloomberg index

The index ranked 163 countries based on information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations (UN) and the World Bank. Variables such as life expectancy, causes of death and health risks such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, malnutrition and the availability of clean water were looked at.

Each country was given a health grade, derived from the score across the variables minus health risk penalties. Italy topped the index, followed by Iceland, Switzerland and Singapore.

Credit: Bloomberg
Credit: Bloomberg

Diet and lifestyle play a big role in healthiness

Ironically in Italy, being one of the most developed countries, economical growth has stagnated for decades as approximately 40% of its youngsters are out of jobs and it currently has one of the world's highest debt, relative to the size of its economy.

However, Italians are still healthier than Americans, Canadians and the British, who have suffer from many non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and poor mental health. Italians are also expected to live up to at least 80 years old.

Italy also has "an excess of doctors," said Mr Tom Kenyon, a physician and CEO of the global relief organisation Project Hope.

Their diet that is rich in vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, and easy access to fresh produce, fruit, lean meats and fish are also thought to play a part.

On the other hand, Americans often consume fast food and have a sugar-rich diet, making obesity a common risk. It is one of the world's heaviest nations with a ranking of 67.3 for the prevalence of overweight people. The index graded the country with an overall health grade of 73.05 out of 100.

The poorest states - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia - were found to be the heaviest with more than 35% of their populations considered to be obese, according to US Centres for Disease Control. MIMS

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