The Indigo Wellness Index, compiled and led by Richard Davies at economics consultancy Bloomsbury Economics and published by investment business LetterOne in the new journal Global Perspectives, is one of the most comprehensive to date, covering 191 countries across the globe.
The Index created a series of rankings based on 10 key measures, ordering the countries from the weakest performers (ranked 1) to the strongest (ranked, for example, 191).
The 10 measures were healthy life expectancy, blood pressure, blood glucose (diabetes risk), obesity, depression, happiness, alcohol use, tobacco use, inactivity (too little exercise), and government spending on healthcare.
It then calculated a ratio to asses how close each country is to the best score overall – the worst score is 0, while the best score is 1.
South Africa was ranked the most unhealthy country on earth, while Canada came out on top as the most healthy country.
The latest statistics from the World Health Organisation show that South Africans have a 26% probability of dying of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory disease between ages 30 and 70.
The WHO also found that more than 28% of adults were obese – the highest obesity rate among sub-Saharan African countries
Scroll down to see the most unhealthy countries in the world, ranked in ascending order.
Note: Countries where data was missing on more than one measure (including South Sudan, Palau, Niue, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Bahamas, Equatorial Guinea, and Libya) were excluded from the final index, which features 151 countries, 68 of which had all 10 measures available, and 83 of which had 9 measures available. The final ranking accounts for over 95% of the world’s population.
=18. Samoa — 0.41. Blood glucose levels, obesity, and binge drinking put this Oceanic country into the top 10.
=18. Dominican Republic — 0.41. High levels of depression, drinking, and blood pressure gave this Caribbean nation an identical score.
=18. Egypt — 0.41. Less government spending on healthcare, higher diabetes risk, and obesity levels gave Egypt its spot tied for 18.
=16. Jamaica — 0.40. The Caribbean island of Jamaica scored poorly across a number of measures, including obesity, state spending, smoking, depression, and blood glucose.
=16. Latvia — 0.40. Blood pressure and binge drinking were to blame for Latvia’s place in the top 20.
=14. Trinidad and Tobago — 0.39. Depression, blood pressure, and blood glucose received poor scores for this dual-island Caribbean nation.
=14. Serbia — 0.39. This Balkan country scored poorly due to lack of exercise and alarming blood pressure scores.
=12. Ukraine — 0.38. Depression and blood pressure were the categories that scored poorly here.
=12. Lithuania — 0.38. The same two categories — depression and blood pressure — also put this European country in the tied 12th spot.
=9. Georgia — 0.37. A number of categories stood out for Georgia, including diet (high levels of obesity and blood glucose), depression, and binge drinking.
=9. Iraq — 0.37. Inactivity, low life expectancy, lack of state spending, low levels of happiness, and high levels of obesity were the most concerning factors here.
=9. Haiti — 0.37. Haiti scored poorly on happiness, state spending, and life expectancy.
8. Central African Republic — 0.36. Life expectancy and state spending were the standout categories for this Central African country.
7. Armenia – 0.35. This Asian country is the seventh most unhealthy due to its blood glucose, blood pressure, and depression scores.
=5. Barbados — 0.34. It may seem idyllic, but this Caribbean country had alarming scores across a wide range of categories, including blood pressure, depression, obesity, inactivity, and binge drinking.
=5. Micronesia (Federated States of) — 0.34. Obesity, drinking, and low government spending on health put Micronesia in tied 5th place.
4. Bulgaria — 0.33. Sunny Beach may look like the perfect holiday spot, but its home of Bulgaria is the fourth most unhealthy in the world due to blood pressure, depression, and drinking.
3. Kiribati — 0.31. Obesity is the biggest concern here, putting the Oceanic country in third place.
2. Saint Lucia — 0.29. Binge drinking, blood pressure, and blood glucose scores made Saint Lucia the second most unhealthy country in the world.
1. South Africa — 0.28. Scoring poorly on all measures, its scores on obesity, drinking, and life expectancy in particular that make South Africa the most unhealthy country in the world in 2019.