Spain’s inhabitants stay healthier longer and Spain is Europe’s healthiest country to live in, states a medical report issued recently.

Research published in The Lancet in 2013 has recently been up-dated and with very similar results to those originally published. The report stated that within the Spanish life expectancy of 81.4 years, of these 70.9 years were typically spent in full health with limited or no serious or chronic medical problems. With only Switzerland and Japan beating Spain into third place, life expectancy in Spain has been steadily rising and has reached new highs in 2015, to 85 years of age.

The 2013 Lancet report is still relevant, however, since it covers data over 20 years of studies and found a consistent trend which placed Spain at the top on the continent with the largest number of years in an average life span being relatively free of health problems.

In the U.K ,68.6 years is an average and life expectancy is under 80, which makes Spain’s 70.9 years far greater than the U.K. In fact, Greece, Germany and Ireland show better results than Britain, which is in 12 th place. Health officials in the U.K. state that further work still needs to be done and that authorities need to engage the support of employers, the government, local councils, charities and the retail industry, particularly the food and drink sector.

The U.S.A. has a comparatively poor result too, at 17 on the world list, the average person lives to 78.2 years, of which 67.9 are healthy. With a large proportion of life being spent outdoors, due to better climate and more of a ‘walking’ culture, all help.

Just walking or cycling from A-B and swimming in summer to combat the heat, are far more ingrained in the Spanish psyche than in colder climates – and even when the temperatures drop, Spain has very cheap ski resorts which fill with Spaniards on weekends. Eating more healthily has been cited by The Lancet – despite fast food becoming more prolific, processed and ready meals are less common in supermarkets, where fruit, vegetable and fish counters take up a large amount of space and with restaurants in abundance, eating out is a way of life for most Spaniards. No known research has yet been carried out on whether there is a difference between the health and lifespan of those living in coastal regions where fish, olive oil and citrus fruits are widely consumed or those living inland who diet intake is more red meat and dairy.

It is far easier to gain access to medical testing with GP’s being less reticent about sending patients for blood tests, ECG’s, and X-rays and scans meaning that despite the funding cuts by the acting PP Government, the country still has one of the best health services in Europe, if not the world. Spain also has the highest donations of organs for transplant, number one in the world for several consecutive years reaching 34 donations per million inhabitants compared with 13 per million in the UK and around 17 per million in Europe. Because of a higher murder rate the US life expectancy is lower – in Spain, a total of 8 per million are victims of violent death, compared with 47 per million in the USA.

One aspect of Spain’s high life expectancy is that those who are living into their 60’s 70’s and 80’s, were born during the 1930’s and 1950’s – one of the least-healthily periods in the country’s history, where they would have grown up at the height of the wartime and post-war famine which persisted for much of Franco’s dictatorship; a factor which suggests Spaniards born later may fare even better on the health and longevity front.

The ‘Family Culture’ also appears to be a key factor to a longer and healthier life – social care and residential homes are relatively scarce in Spain than in northern European countries, since many families look after their senior citizens, either taking them to live with them, or that the live much closer and keep in contact more, reducing accidental deaths triggered by falls among those living at home alone; and personal care of patients is carried out by the nearest family members, who typically sleep around the clock in the same room, which are designed for 1 or 2 patients only, rather than the large, communal dormitories in the UK.

In the 2013 Lancet report, Spain’s life expectancy was very slightly lower than a handful of other countries – such as Italy and Australia, where it sat at 81.5 years – and equal to Sweden, but since then it has exceeded them both. And the number of healthy years lived, at 70.9, was higher that Italy’s 70.2 years, Australia’s 70.1 and Sweden’s 69.6 years.

Even though France and Canada made up the rest of the top six with life expectancies of 80.6 and 80.9 respectively, they were still below Spain and the average healthy lifespan was, in Canada, the same as Sweden, and in France, at 69.5 years.