Britain's still Great: Great Big and Fat

Updated: 

Obesity

Britain has been identified as having one of the highest qualities of life in the world. A new study from The Social Progress Imperative has put the country 13th in the world - ahead of the US, France, Ireland and Spain. However, it was outclassed by a number of countries, including new Zealand, the Netherlands (the best-performing country in the EU), Canada (the best in the G8) and Germany (which took 12th place): and our Achilles Heel is that we're just too fat.

So which countries fared the best, and how did Britain do?

The best

The Social Progress Index brings together 50 different studies into quality of life in order to produce a single Social Progress Index - featuring 132 countries. The countries are ranked on basic human needs, foundation of wellbeing, opportunity and health and wellness.

The study found that New Zealand is officially the best place in the world to enjoy a great quality of life, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Norway. Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, said: "Overall, within Europe the UK's ranking is middle of the road: it's more socially advanced than either Belgium, France, Ireland or Spain but loses out to all the Nordic countries, and to Germany by a single ranking."

The top 13

New Zealand
Switzerland
Iceland
The Netherlands
Norway
Sweden
Canada
Finland
Denmark
Australia
Austria
Germany
The UK

How did we do?

The UK excels in the category of 'opportunity' - where it is sixth overall. It does particularly well for education - and has more of the top-ranked universities than any other country in the study. It is also classed as the most connected country - because it has the highest proportion of mobile phone use.

However, it only manages 37th place for health and wellbeing - primarily because so much of the population is overweight. Some 25% of the population is classed as obese, which is far higher than many other Western European countries including the Netherlands (16%), Sweden (17%) and Switzerland (15%). In fact it is the 6th most obese country in the world, after Mexico, the US, New Zealand, Australia, and Russia.

Green added: "The UK is let down by its poor score on Health and Wellness and the findings also illustrate ongoing problems with Personal Safety." The study found that the level of violent crime is higher in the UK than in many Western European countries including Austria, Finland, Portugal and Norway.

But what do you think? Would you rather be in New Zealand, Switzerland or Germany?

The best places to live in the UK

The best places to live in the UK