The country deemed to have the healthiest eating habits may surprise you

Friday, January 17th, 2014. Filed under: Destinations Food & Dining
Amsterdam, Netherlands ©leoks/shutterstock.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands
©leoks/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – Thanks in part to a diet that places the emphasis on vegetables and dairy products, the Netherlands has been named the healthiest country in the world to eat. Conspicuously absent on the top 10 list? The US, Canada the UK.

Though the country is better known for its liberal drug laws than its cuisine, the Dutch diet ranked the healthiest out of 125 countries in a wide sweeping report out of Oxfam that looked at factors like food availability, affordability, food quality and obesity rates.

According to the index “Good Enough to Eat,” the Netherlands emerged the leader thanks to relatively low food prices, low prevalence of diabetes, and better nutritional diversity than its European rivals.

Overall, the list is dominated by European countries, with France and Switzerland tying for second place, followed by Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden tying for third.

Notable absentees include the UK, Canada and the US.

shutterstock_42.1d43c133732.w400

A traditional Dutch pea soup called snert
©Elzbieta Sekowska/shutterstock.com

Asian giants South Korea and Japan, meanwhile, performed the best when it comes to healthy eating habits and food availability, given their lower rates of diabetes and obesity and equally low rates of malnutrition in children.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chad landed dead last on the list, due to high food prices, poor nutritional value as well as limited sanitary conditions that includes access to clean water.

Second from the bottom are Angola and Ethiopia.

Interestingly, when it comes to unhealthy eating habits, Saudi Arabia was the lowest scoring country, ranking the worst for its high prevalence of diabetes — a whopping 18 percent of the population is diabetic. A third of the population is also considered obese.

The fattest country on the list is Kuwait, where nearly one out of four people (42 percent) is obese.

To compile their ranking, researchers looked at figures from eight studies published out of international groups like the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Labour Organisation.

Meanwhile, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that a healthy traditional Dutch diet — defined as a high intake of vegetables, fruit, dairy products and potatoes — was more feasible and healthier for the longevity of older Dutch women, compared to a Mediterranean diet.

Here are the top countries for healthy eating, according Oxfam’s “Good Enough to Eat,” index:

1. Netherlands
2. France, Switzerland
3. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden
4. Australia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal

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