1. Peru – 2.77/10
Peru had the best index score of 2.77/10. What helped Peru rank so well was the fact that the nation had the smallest population of smokers, with only 6.6% of Peruvians smoking. Other strong factors include having the third-smallest amount of deaths attributed to NCDs (73%), fourth-lowest cardiovascular death rate (73 per 100,000, the same as Australia) and the fifth-lowest diabetes population (4.8% of adults aged 20-79).
2. South Korea/Japan – 3.17/10
Tying with a score of 3.17/10 was South Korea and Japan. These Asian nations had the lowest DALYs per 100,000 (15,885.71 per 100,000 for Japan and 17,191.57 per 100,000 for South Korea). These two countries also had the lowest cardiovascular disease death rates at 64 per 100,000 for South Korea and 68 per 100,000 for Japan.
Focusing on South Korea, the nation had the seventh-lowest number of deaths attributed to NCDs (78%), eighth-smallest chronic respiratory disease death rate (17 per 100,000), and the fourth-lowest percentage of the population with a mental health or development disability disorder (10.88%).
Areas where Japan did well include the number of adults categorised as overweight – Japan has the second-smallest score after India at 27% – and the eleventh-lowest percentage of deaths attributed to NCDs at 85% of all deaths.
Japan also had the lowest percentage of mental health and development disability disorders in the population, with 10.58% of the population reportedly having a mental health condition (excluding substance abuse disorders).
However, in the past few decades Japan has had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Despite this, the nation has had a reportedly low rate of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and developmental disabilities, which is all factored together into this one score. Furthermore, recent WHO data shows that Japan’s suicide rate has declined strongly year-on-year since 2013.2
3. Iceland – 3.42/10
In third place for positive chronic illness scores on our index was Iceland. Iceland scored 3.42/10 thanks to several factors. These include having the fifth-smallest population of smokers at 10.5%, third-lowest DALYs at 17,420.69 per 100,000, and the ninth-smallest percentage of 20-79 year old’s with diabetes at 5.5%.