June 27, 2014

Even though half of the 32 World Cup finalists have already been eliminated, that will not stop this health nerd from spending too much time with the World Health Organization’s world health statistics in determining arbitrary winners and losers in cherry-picked statistics (because England is not a WHO member state, the United Kingdom’s statistics were used instead).

Highest prevalence of tobacco-smoking adults: Russia, where a whopping 59% of males (over the age of 15) and 38% of females are smokers. The 32-country average is 30.3% for men and 18.2% for women.

Most fertile women: Nigeria has the highest total fertility rate (per woman) at 6.0. Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Korea, and Portugal have the lowest rate at 1.3 children per woman.

Shortest life expectancy: Cote D’Ivoire has the shortest for both men and women, at 52 and 54 years, respectively. Switzerland had the highest male life expectancy (81 years), with Japan leading in female life expectancy (87 years). The averages are 73 (men) and 78 (women).

Lowest % of people using improved sanitation: In Ghana, only 14% of its population has regular access to improved sanitation. The average is 86%.

Skinniest male population: Only 3.9% of Cote D’Ivoire adult men (over the age of 20) are obese, with the 32-country average being 17.4%

Not-skinniest male population: The United States wins, with 30.2% of its adult men being obese.


Skinniest female population: Japan had the lowest rate of female obesity at 3.5%. Mexico had the highest, at 38.4%.

Biggest health spenders: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, but the U.S. wins handily, with 17.7% of its GDP being spent on health care. Algeria spent the least (4.4%).


Highest crude birth rate: The winner is Nigeria, with 41.5 births per 1,000. Germany has the lowest birth rate, at 8.4 births per 1,000.

Lowest crude death rate: Colombia had the lowest (3.9 deaths per 1,000). Russia had the highest (14.7 per 1,000), almost five times higher than Colombia’s, and almost double the 32-country average (8.2 per 1,000).

Highest per capita spending: While one might have expected the U.S. to easily win this category, the honor actually goes to Switzerland, which spends US$9,248 per capita. We come in second, at $8,467 per capita. Cameroon spends the least, at US$64.

Most cell phone subscribers: Russia wins, but that’s not the interesting part. What’s fascinating is that Russia has 183 cellphone subscribers per 100, meaning most Russians have more than one mobile phone. For reference, the U.S. has 95 subscribers per 100.

Most emotive coach: Mexico is peerless in this category.