NEWS » It's official - Italians live longer!

It's official - Italians live longer!

Italians are the population who live longest in Europe and the second in the world. The data has been revealed by the prestigious scientific magazine “Lancet”.  Italian
life expectancy is 81.5 years, a year and a half higher than the British.

As “Repubblica online” has reported when the journal Lancet published the massive study "Global burden of disease", a truly global study in the data collection (187 researchers from 486 countries surveyed for 5 years), the BBC has contacted 
the Italian National Institute of Health to ask for clarification and advice. They wanted to understand why Italians are living longer than them.

Heavy smokers, quite a sedentary lifestyle, a falling apart sanitary system, the economical crisis… What is the Italian long living secret? You might have guessed already…yes it is the legendary Mediterranean diet, and not at all less important a different drinking culture, a glass of wine per meal rather than the "binge drinking", the quick assumption of many alcoholic drinks, which is a growing worry among the youngest even in the “bel paese”.

Since the '60s, the diet of the Italians has greatly improved, enriched with fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, and it has become more varied. In addition, olive oil is part of the traditional food of the Mediterranean diet, while in the British diet prevail animal fats.

Only Japan overtakes Italy in terms of longevity by more than one year (Japanese people live on average 82.6 years) according to the maxi research, involving, among others, the Universities of Washington, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Tokyo and London, and that takes into account the change of the state of health of a large portion of the world's population between 1990 and 2010.

According to the data published in December in the overall mortality there are less maternal or neonatal infectious diseases (decreased from one third to one quarter of all deaths) while tobacco smoking and high blood pressure have taken the place of malnutrition and pollution as the more important risk factors. Chronic diseases are now responsible for the majority of deaths, that is 34.5 million on 52.8 taken into account.

Italy scored well also regarding general health because it has an average duration of disability sufficiently low, that is, the sixth shortest in the world. The most common serious diseases (heart attack, stroke and cancer) that are responsible for premature mortality can be partially prevented by working on some factors that endanger the population.

The most common has to do with poor diet (a sign that the myth of the Mediterranean diet has still a reason to exist); high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. To improve and maybe reach Japan’s results it would be important for Italians  to do more physical activity.


Giulia Lombardo

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