Three Australian cities have been named among the 20 healthiest cities in the world, with Canberra ranked in the 5th position, ahead of Adelaide (11) and Brisbane (19).

The new study by analysed countries and cities on six fundamental factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle: obesity levels, life expectancy, cost to be healthy, pollution levels, safety score and sunlight hours.

Canberra - the 5th healthiest city in the world

An excellent healthcare system that provides safe and affordable care to all residents, a sunny location that provides the population with Vitamin D and keeps them fit and strong, and a low crime rate that makes the city one of the safest, were the primary reasons for Canberra’s great performance in the study.

20 healthiest cities in the world

Enforcement of environmental legislation and assurance of stability are the common drivers behind the top-ranking performance of the 20 healthiest cities in the world.

For instance, the world’s healthiest cities have led the fight against climate change by enforcing new legislation against old harmful practices. Initiatives such as pledging to become carbon neutral and promoting the use of electric cars and renewable sources of energy (Helsinki and Edinburgh) prove that the healthiest cities in the world are invested in reducing their air pollution, paving the way for a greener and more sustainable future. 

Stability is another factor that encourages healthy living in the population. A safe space to live in and good education enable most people to live sustainably without resorting to crime (Zurich and Helsinki). Being a good welfare state helps to suppress crime and creates a healthier living environment for the population.

Australia ranks 27th among healthiest countries

While bushfires and dust storms may have caused short-term spikes in air pollution, Australia generally has some of the cleanest air in the world along with one of the best healthcare systems. In the index for greatest life expectancy, Australia was ranked 11th.

Some of the reasons behind the performance of the healthiest countries in the world include people’s relationship with food, active lifestyles, social interactions and mental wellbeing.

Top rankers including Spain and Japan lay a greater emphasis on the social aspect provided by food. People in these countries take great pride and interest in the preparing, cooking and eating process of a meal, leading to food hygiene (using fresh produce) and smaller portion sizes.  

Additionally, walking is the primary mode of transportation in many of these countries, helping promote an active lifestyle that reduces obesity, and increases life expectancy. 

Finally, these countries prioritise mental wellbeing and encourage social interactions, helping their populations stay healthy and happy.