The life expectancy of Greeks may have risen from 77.2 years in 1990 to 81.5 in 2016 but Greece’s overall ranking among Europe’s longest-living nations has dropped from third to 12th over the same period, according to the most recent data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
Moreover, Yannis Tountas, professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Athens’s Medical School, said that research so far in 2019 suggests that Greece could have slipped further down, to 18th.
At a recent lecture at the American College of Greece’s Institute of Public Health, Tountas attributed the slide to a decline in preventive care.
He said it has been “undermined in the conscience of citizens, in the practice of doctors and in the state’s choices.”
He said Greece’s high score up until 30 years ago was mainly due to the Mediterranean diet, the temperate climate and because a large portion of the population was involved in rural occupations.
Countries that have overtaken Greece in life expectancy have reportedly not only improved their national health systems but have also placed a greater emphasis on lifestyle choices, such as nutrition, exercise and on a reduction of smoking.
At the same time they have implemented policies promoting preventive care and social solidarity.
According to the latest report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average life expectancy in the European Union is 81, with Spain, Italy and France in the top three – 83.5, 83.4 and 82.7 respectively.