THERE are many ways to measure the health-consciousness of countries, and one way to do that is by gathering data from people's searches on Google. Research done by RunRepeat used Google Trends to create a map of the most health-conscious countries in the world based on people's search requests.
To create a standard set of categories to measure health-consciousness, it aggregated search scores from a list of 38 health-related topics based on the main components of living a healthy lifestyle: eating, working out, resting, and other activities.
How Health Consciousness Was Measured
The researchers at RunRepeat wanted to get a diverse set of topics to get more well-rounded and accurate results in their conclusion. For each category (eating, working out, resting, and others), a set of keywords was assigned so that when people google these keywords, a score is awarded to the category in terms of health-consciousness.
Below are the categories for health consciousness, and some of the keywords related to each.
Eating: nutrition, weight loss, calorie, organic food, healthy diet, health food, veganism, omega 3 fatty acid, gluten free diet, protein, probiotic
Working out: physical exercise, gym, physical fitness, weight training, body building, running, aerobic exercise, activity tracker, cycling, high intensity interval training, hiking, endurance, jogging
Resting: meditation, yoga, mindfulness, stress management, relaxation technique, mental health, sleep
Others: immune system, risk, detoxification, hygiene, longevity
How the Philippines ranked
Out of 89 countries sampled in the study, the Philippines ranked 13th most health-conscious country in the world. The Philippines and Singapore are the only Asia-Pacific countries to make it to the list's top 20.
Singapore landed as the fourth most health-conscious country in the world and first in Asia, while Malaysia ranked 23rd, Indonesia 46th, Vietnam 63rd, and Thailand 66th. According to the study, Filipinos' top searches were about eating and working out.
The top 20 countries with the most health related searches are the following:
3. United States
4. New Zealand
6. United Kingdom
8. South Africa
11. United Arab Emirates
Meanwhile, the 20 countries with the least searches about health and fitness are the following (starting with the least searches):
5. Bosnia & Herzegovina
7. Sri Lanka
13. Trinidad & Tobago
18. El Salvador
Most Health-Conscious Countries Are Also the Most Healthy
One of the most significant findings in the study is that countries with the most health-related searches also tend to be the healthiest in the world based on their people's life expectancy. Fourteen out of the top 25 countries in the study are also the same countries that ranked high in terms of life expectancy.
Life expectancy is the statistical measure of the average lifespan of a person. Worldwide, the average life expectancy is 71 years based on the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world with its citizens living an average lifespan of 83.74 years, followed by Italy (83.31), Switzerland (82.84), Singapore (82.66), Israel (82.66), Iceland (82.30), and Spain (82.28). The Philippines ranks 139th out of 201 countries with an average life expectancy of 67.99 years.
Most Health-Conscious Countries Are Also the Happiest
The study also made a correlation between the most health-conscious countries and the happiest countries. In the United Nations' top 35 in the list of the happiest countries in the world, 24 are also the countries with the most health-related searches in Google. The Philippines ranked 71st out of 156 countries in the World Happiness Report 2018.
The World Happiness Report is based on individuals' ratings of their own happiness on a scale of zero to 10. Factors that are used to measure happiness are personal relationships, main activity or occupation, achievements, health status, future perspectives, standard of living, neighborhood, leisure time, and security, among others. A study by Cambridge University actually concluded that money can buy you happiness.
Limitations of the Study on Health Consciousness
Since the study largely relied on data from Google Trends, its accuracy is affected because of exclusivity. For example, Google is not the dominant search engine used in countries like Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia. Internet penetration is also an issue. For example, sample respondents in the Philippines would only be composed of people who have access to the Internet, or 60 percent of the population.
Nevertheless, RunRepeat's study shines a light on important parallels about people's health consciousness, fitness, and happiness, which could be useful for future research on the science of happiness and longevity.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
Minor edits have been made by the SPIN.ph editors.