More than ever, people are searching for ways to sustain a young, fit and healthy lifestyle. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is not only important for your health, but it also could make your life insurance cheaper. Therefore, ensure that your life insurance policy is updated to reflect any changes. This could help you get the best deal and a policy that’s suited for you.
Which countries find living a healthy lifestyle the easiest?
We’ve analysed which countries have the lowest levels of drinking, smoking, obesity and stress.
Each nation was given a normalised score for each of the above habits, before an average of these scores was taken.
For example the country with the lowest level of alcohol consumption would score 0 and the one with the highest would score 10.
The countries with the lowest average scores across all four habits were deemed to be the healthiest.
Countries with the fewest unhealthy habits
1. Mauritius & Singapore - both 1.47 out of 10
There are 2 countries that are tied with the fewest unhealthy habits, the first of which is Mauritius. The country was also in the top ranked 5 nations for both its levels of obesity (11.09%) and stress (21%).
Mauritius is a welfare state that offers free universal healthcare. Its residents are clearly health-conscious too, with low obesity levels and alcohol intake.
Mauritius also has strict laws in terms of smoking (which negatively affect your life insurance costs). Smoking in Mauritius is banned in all indoor public places and some outdoor ones.
Tied with Mauritius for first place is the city-state of Singapore, which also achieves a low score of just 1.47 out of 10. Singapore has the second lowest rate of obesity among these counties, at just 6.35%. Singapore also has a low intake of 2 litres of (pure) alcohol per person per year.
Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, which is linked to the health of its residents. It’s also known for being tough on smokers, with the first smoking bans coming into force as early as 1970. There were even calls to ban smoking in private residences, although these were ultimately rejected.
3. Malaysia - 1.52 out of 10
Another Southeast Asian country follows Singapore, with Malaysia scoring just 1.52 out of 10.
Malaysia has the second-lowest intake of pure alcohol per year (0.93 litres), likely due to the fact that it’s a Muslim-majority country. While alcohol isn’t banned here, it can only be sold to non-Muslims. It's also one of the countries with the heaviest taxes on alcohol, at 15%.
It’s also among the first countries to issue a ‘generational’ ban on smoking, with those born after 2005 set to be banned from buying cigarettes for life.
Healthcare in Malaysia is highly subsidised and considered to be among the most developed in Asia, which has led to an influx of ‘medical tourism’.
Alcohol intake by country
1. Saudi Arabia - alcohol intake in litres 0.00
The country with the lowest level of alcohol consumption is Saudi Arabia, although not necessarily through choice.
Alcohol is fully prohibited in Saudi Arabia, and there can be heavy punishments for those who break these rules.
Percentage of cigarette smokers by country
1. Panama - percentage of cigarette smokers - 4.25%
Smoking is seriously detrimental to health, and the nation with the lowest rate of smokers is Panama, in Central America.
Smoking is banned in most public places in Panama, as is the advertising and promotion of smoking.
If you smoke or vape, then this must be declared on your life insurance, which could impact your cover. This is vital as failing to do so could void your policy.
Obesity levels by country
1. Japan - percentage of the population considered obese - 4.42%
Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world, at 851, so it's unsurprising that it also has such a low level of obesity.
Japanese diets are rich in seafood, fish and plant-based meals and low in animal protein, added sugars and fat.
Stress levels by country
1. Kazakhstan - percentage of the population experiencing stress - 12%
Stress can take its toll not just on your mental wellbeing, but on your physical health too.
According to a Gallup poll2, the nation on this list with the lowest average stress is Kazakhstan, with just 12% saying they experienced stress the previous day.
In fact, 4 of the 5 least stressed countries in that poll were in Central Asia.
English counties with the fewest unhealthy habits
1. Rutland - 0.44 out of 10
England’s smallest county also comes out as the area with the fewest unhealthy habits, with a score of just 0.44 out of 10.
Despite data being unavailable for alcohol consumption in the county, it was among the lowest levels of smoking and obesity. Rutland also had the lowest average stress score in the country.
Rutland is largely rural, so its residents benefit from lots of open spaces, meaning they’re more likely to keep active. However, the area’s good health can also largely be explained by its low levels of deprivation.
2. Hillingdon - 1.21 out of 10
In second place is the London borough of Hillingdon, with a score of 1.21 out of 10. Just 11.3% of people in Hillingdon drink excessively - much lower than average. The area’s residents also have a relatively low stress score of 3.04 out of 10. Smokers make up 10.1% of adults in the borough, while around 1 in 5 are classified as obese.
Despite being located in the capital, Hillingdon enjoys more greenery than most London boroughs, being located in the Metropolitan Green Belt.
3. Barnet - 1.37 out of 10
Another London borough completes the top 3, with Barnet scoring 1.37 out of 10. Like Hillingdon, Barnet has a low level of drinking, with just 10% of adults consuming more than 14 units a week. It’s also in the top ranking 5 areas for smoking prevalence, at just 6.8%.
Levels of obesity and stress are slightly in the area, at 21.3% and 3.20/10 respectively, which is why Barnet doesn’t place any higher.
US states with the fewest unhealthy habits
1. Utah - 0.57 out of 10
When looking at US states with the fewest unhealthy habits, the state of Utah comes out on top by some distance.
The state has the lowest intake of alcohol, the fewest smokers, and the lowest level of stress in the country.
Also, Utah was also among the states where people get the most sleep, so it’s easy to see why it ranks so well overall.
2. Washington - 2.16 out of 10
In second place is Washington state, known as the Evergreen State. Washington scores particularly well due to its low levels of smoking, obesity and insufficient sleep.
The state scores slightly higher for its alcohol intake (2.22 gallons per person) and stress (41.84 out of 100).
Washington is also one of the wealthiest states in the country, and it’s likely no coincidence that it also ranks as one of the healthiest.
3. Massachusetts - 2.37 out of 10
Completing the top 3 is Massachusetts, in New England. The state actually has quite a high level of alcohol consumption, at 2.57 gallons per person, yet it redeems itself when it comes to other factors.
For example, just 24.4% of people in Massachusetts are considered obese, one of the lowest rates in the country. Also, only 12.0% of adults in the state are smokers, while it also has a relatively low stress score of 39.09 out of 100.
Louise Thomas, life insurance expert at Confused.com comments:
“Getting fit, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake are all ways to improve your health. However, having a healthier lifestyle also benefits you financially, as it could lead to paying lower life insurance costs. This is because some habits can negatively impact life expectancy or put you at risk of illness, which may lead to higher prices.
“There are many things you can do to avoid these higher insurance costs while improving your health. Experts suggest to cut down on these habits, you should start by identifying what triggers the habit and learn to avoid these situations. Most of the time, unhealthy habits have simple causes such as boredom or stress. Although the habit may help you cope with that feeling, it’s wise to find a healthier alternative to replace this habit.
“When applying for life insurance, you’ll be asked questions about your weight, alcohol intake and whether you smoke. It’s vital that you’re 100% honest with these questions. Don’t take the chance to shave a few pounds off your policy by not declaring some habits, as this could invalidate your policy. Ensure you compare life insurance quotes to make sure you get the right cover at the best price.”
Developed nations (according to the UNDP’s Human Development Report), as well as each local authority district in England and state in the US, were analysed on the following metrics, giving each a normalised score out of ten for each factor before taking an average of these scores. Only data points from the last 5 years were used. If data was unavailable for a particular data point, this factor was not included when calculating the overall score.
- Alcohol consumption - The consumption of alcohol per person (15+) is measured in litres of pure alcohol according to the Global Health Observatory.
- Smokers - The percentage of people (15+) who currently smoke tobacco according to the Global Health Observatory.
- Obesity - The obesity rate in adults (taking an average of males and females) according to World Obesity.
- Stress - The percentage of people who said that they experienced stress the previous day in a Gallup survey.
Data for England is only available at County and Unitary Authority level. This means that data for counties refer just to the areas covered by the county council, and not another unitary authority that might fall within the county.
- Alcohol consumption - The consumption of alcohol per person according to Public Health England’s Local Alcohol Profiles.
- Smokers - The percentage of people (18+) who currently smoke according to Public Health England’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles.
- Obesity - The overweight/obesity rate in adults according to Public Health England’s Obesity Profile.
- Stress - Average anxiety scores out of 10 according to the Office for National Statistics’ personal well-being estimates by the local authority.
- Alcohol consumption - The consumption of alcohol per person (14+) is measured in gallons of ethanol according to the NIH’s latest Surveillance Report.
- Smokers - The percentage of people (18+) who currently smoke according to the CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System and this source for New Jersey.
- Obesity - The obesity rate according to the CDC’s BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data.
- Sleep - The percentage of people who get less than seven hours of sleep on average according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.
- Stress - Total stress score out of 100 according to Wallethub’s Most & Least Stressed States.