Well, we analysed the top 13 countries with the healthiest people to see what we could find. You may or may not be surprised by the results.
Here’s our take on the data taken from the infographic:
Japan is perhaps the healthiest country in the world, with some of the best life expectancy rates with 80 for men and 87 years for women. The Japanese enjoy one of the lowest obesity rates, because of a nutrient rich diet of balanced proportions.
A typical meal is heavy on fish (with healthy Omega-3s), vegetables and fruit and very little processed food.
The average Japanese citizen also consumes about 25% less calories than their American counterparts, registering 2,800 calories each day per capita.
Recently Japan’s government developed standards for waistline sizes. Under the country’s health care coverage rules, any employee that fails to adhere to the guidelines is required to undergo nutritional counseling.
The Japanese also adhere to an active lifestyle; residents walk and take public transport often, reducing the amount of time spent sedentary.
Life expectancy in Cambodia clocks in at 67 (men) and 71 years (women).
The relatively low per capita income of Cambodia means that citizens live off a diet of food that is farmed or available close to home, like portions of green vegetables and tropical fruits or freshly caught fish.
Rice is a huge staple of Cambodian cuisine, when combined with vegetables, spices and broths food takes on a rich, textual flavor low in fat and calories.
As a result, Cambodian calorie consumption is quite low in comparison to other nations, with 2,180 calories each day per capita.
Cambodia is not a country dominated by smartphones, television, mega malls, freeways and fast food chains, thus citizen life is active and revolves around biking and walking.
As a past of Northern Europe and Scandinavia, Iceland was recently ranked the fourth happiest country in the world, due to its standards of health, wealth and access to education.
Iceland is a healthy country with one of the longest life expectancies in Europe with 81 (men) and 84 years (women).
Historically, Iceland’s diet was limited by the country’s geography, relying on what could be caught from the Icelandic waters or foraged from the land. Today, it still remains anchored by a diet of nutrient-rich seafood.
Icelandic citizens have an average daily caloric intake per capita of 3,260, based on a cuisine of fish, supported by other forms of meaty protein such as free-range lamb and rounded out with carbohydrates in the form of potatoes or other root vegetables.
Icelanders participate in various sports and leisure activities, from soccer, to basketball, golf, swimming and horseback riding. Geothermal spas, with numerous health benefits, provide relaxation.
Part of the Mediterranean, Italy is one of the healthiest countries, offering a culture of food and community that promotes citizen life expectancies of 80 (men) and 85 years (women).
Italian portions are kept small, thus reducing overeating. Bites of pasta, cured meats and fresh vegetables make up a traditional meal.
There is a much greater emphasis on fresh foods, healthy oils and and locally sourced grains.
An after dinner stroll is common for many citizens, keeping waistlines trim. The traditional Italian espresso is also packed with superpower antioxidants, fat burning abilities and associated health benefits.
Like its Nordic neighbors, Finland is another of the world’s healthiest countries, through a diet focused on fresh seafood, berries and whole meal grains, with an average caloric consumption of 3,220 calories per capita each day.
Smoked fish is a protein staple along with arctic berries packed with nutrients. Rye bread provides a much healthier option than refined, white flour.
As a result, Finns live up to an average of 78 for men and 84 years for women.
Finns are very connected to nature and urbanization remains still relatively low in the country.
Many Finns regularly use saunas which help to stave off colds and help the body bounce back after exercise.
Skiing and ice hockey are popular forms of exercise and are easily accessible in the winter months.
Madagascar enjoys a tropical climate, providing a diverse home for many plants and animals.
Malagasy, the country’s official cuisine, is crafted around a large portion of rice with a small amount of vegetables and animal protein such as pork, beef or fish.
Cassava provides a healthier alternative to potatoes in a daily diet that averages 2,130 calories per capita.
While still a relatively underdeveloped nation, its citizens have an average life expectancy of 64 for men and 67 years for women.
Rugby is the national sport and schools offer a range of sports programs from soccer, to track and field, tennis and basketball to keep Malagasies fit and active.
Rural areas of Vietnam in Southeast Asia are still dominated by clan life and farming, thus citizens are some of the thinnest with life expectancy rates of 71 for men and 81 years for women.
Vietnamese consume an average of 2,780 calories per day per capita, on a diet of steamed vegetables, broths, rice, noodles and meat.
Fish, pork and chicken are common proteins and cabbage, broccoli and other greens provide vegetable intake.
Vietnamese follow a yin/yang belief even down to their diet, balancing different foods, textures and flavors to reach optimal health.
Martial arts comprise a large section of Vietnamese life and are a main source of exercise. Vietnamese are less sedentary in transport, typically getting around quickly by motorbike.
Ethiopian cuisine is centered on vegetables and spicy meat served on flat white bread. Sesame and safflower oils are used in cooking to substitute for less healthy animal fats.
Track and field and football are very popular forms of exercise.
The country is still struggling with development gains, and village life and agriculture make up a large portion of the GDP, like much of the Horn of Africa.
Healthcare has been given priority by the government in the last few decades, with access to care and treatments improving for citizens.
9. East Timor
East Timorese consume a proportionally low number of calories in comparison to other nations, with a daily average of 2,020 per capita.
Cuisine in the country is influenced by both Southeast Asia and Portugal, with an emphasis on fish, pork, basil, tamarind, corn, rice and fruit.
Many people rely on producing their own food due to the erratic climate and food production conditions in the country.
To combat relatively low life expectancy rates, 67 for men and 70 years for women, government health initiatives have increased steadily over the last few decades, giving citizens greater access to health.
Cycling, tennis and football are popular activities for East Timorese.
Warm tropical climates mean many East Timorese spend life outside, on the beach or in the mountains.
10. North Korea
Healthcare expenditures in North Korea are some of the lowest in the world and access to public healthcare is inconsistent, but preventative medicine is enforced through exercise and sport and school sports programs are highly emphasized.
Table tennis, gymnastics, football and basketball are popular activities for citizens. Life expectancy rates hover around 67 for men and 74 years for women.
North Koreans consume on average 2,110 calories per capita each day.
Korean cuisine is based on steam cooked rice accompanied by kimchi (fermented vegetables) and meats like beef or chicken.
Part of Eastern Central Africa, Burundi has one of the lowest life expectancy rates of the world’s thinnest countries with 58 for men and 62 years for women, due to poverty and poor access to healthcare.
Burundi also has one of the lowest caloric intakes in the world with 1,680 daily calories per capita.
Agriculture is a big part of the country’s lifestyle and typical cuisine comprises locally grown plantains, cassava, maize and cereals. Meat consumption is low, leaving a greater focus on fresh vegetables and grains.
Basketball and track and field are popular national sports for citizens to stay active.
12. Democratic Republic of the Congo
With a similar life expectancy rate as Burundi, at 58 for men and 62 years for women, the Democratic Republic of Congo has limited access to medical facilities and hospitals.
A Congolese diet is focused on sweet potatoes, cassava, maize and rice for carbohydrates, while mushrooms, fruits, plants and wild game provide texture.
Many meals are consumed with little to no meat because of the high prices of protein, resulting in daily caloric intakes of 2,570 calories per capita.
Sports are widely played, with football, rugby and basketball amongst the most popular.
The African country of Eritrea possesses the world’s lowest caloric intake with 1,590 daily calories consumed per capita.
Eritrean cuisine is very similar to Ethiopian cuisine, with a diet of meat and vegetable stews served on flat breads.
Fish holds a greater focal point in Eritrea, a reason why caloric levels are lower. Beans and legumes also form a core of the Eritrean diet.
Eritrea’s economy has grown in recent years along with life expectancy while mortality rates have dropped, contributing to a healthier nation, with life expectancies of 62 for men and 67 years for women.
Cycling is extremely popular in the country both as a form of exercise and spectator sport.
These countries prove that the secret to staying thin and healthy is about focusing on locally sourced food in a fresh, balanced diet and daily activity aimed at preventing disease and obesity.
Conclusion: The 13 Thinnest Countries in the World
If we are to learn anything from this, it’s that the West needs to focus more on healthier eating, moving more, eating smaller portions and consuming more fruit/veg.
Will we listen though? Probably not.
Marketing will always win, because fast food is funded by the big boys with the deepest pockets.
Having said that… YOU can change.
You don’t need to eat the food that’s being hammered into your head on commercials, billboards, radio ads and online ads.
What’s your average calorie intake? Leave a comment.