General Article How the Spanish unearthed the secret to longevity and happiness

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

BY Annie Bennett

Not that the Spanish need any justification for devouring Ibérico ham at every opportunity, knocking back a glass or two of wine with lunch or having dinner when many other nations are going to bed, but it must be nice to know that these and other habits are contributing to a longer and no doubt more enjoyable life.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Spaniards are set to have the best life expectancy in the world by 2040, nudging ahead of the Japanese, to reach an average of 85.8 years. In the UK, we can only expect to get to the age of 83.3, despite our obsession with counting calories, steps, and portions of fruit and vegetables.

Of course, I’m not saying Spanish people don’t do that too, there is a huge diet and fitness industry, but in general they have a much more relaxed attitude when it comes to eating and drinking.

While the Mediterranean diet undoubtedly plays a big part, a key factor is likely to be the free healthcare system. Wi...

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