Spain to surpass Japan in longest life expectancy - report

Long Lunch 19/10/2018
Spain. Photo: Unsplash.

Spain is expected to overtake Japan’s long-held position as the nation with the highest average life expectancy, according to a new report.

By 2040, Spaniards are expected to live to an average of 85.8 years – just a hair ahead of Japan at 85.7 years, Singapore at 85.4 years, and Switzerland at 85.2 years.

Published in the journal Lancet, the report generated predictions for 195 countries and territories based on data from the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases project.

Diet, alcohol consumption, and smoking are all key factors that influence life expectancy, according to the report co-author Dr Alan Lopez.

“We’ve seen significant evidence from large-scale studies that obesity is a very big risk factor for survival,” Dr Lopez told RadioLIVE.

Dr Lopez emphasised that smoking is a critical factor in mortality rates, calling the behaviour “really, the most stupid thing you could ever do” in regards to longevity.

WHO says Spain has the 7th best healthcare in the world.

Spain’s secret to a long lifespan may boil down to diet, with Dr Lopez calling the nation the “epitome” of the lauded Mediterranean diet. “They eat very sensibly,” he said, citing fish, olive oil and vegetables as healthy diet staples.

It’s also one of few European countries to offer tax-funded healthcare, ranking as the seventh best healthcare system in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, Australia’s predicted life expectancy of 84.1 years is just ahead of New Zealand, with a predicted average of 83.8.

All countries are expected to experience a slight increase in life expectancy, but the rate has slowed down.

Dr Lopez told RadioLIVE that longevity comes down to lifestyle choices, and many individuals can help add years to their life with a few significant changes.  

“Don’t smoke, don’t smoke, and don’t smoke,” he told RadioLIVE. “And beyond that, eat sensibly.”

Listen to the full interview with Alan Lopez above.

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