Visualizing Health And Well-Being Around The World

What’s making New Yorkers sick? And what’s keeping people in Tokyo up at night?

Attitudes towards health and well-being differ widely across the planet. Americans have a tendency to downplay the importance of community compared to other countries. Other countries (like Japan) also place a higher importance on the ways that having a good job impacts health.

Philips recently undertook the massive project of quantifying theses attitudes in a report (PDF) based on survey results of almost 40,000 people across 31 countries.

There is a comprehensive analysis of the results, of course, but Philips also laid out the data in a handy visualization. Here, we can see the varying attitudes about how physical health, mental health, weight, stress, community, and more can affect overall health. Most cities surveyed place a fairly high importance on all of these factors, so the shading differences are hard to spot. But scrolling over individual color blocks offers details. For example, 88% of New Yorkers surveyed believe that cost of living is important, while 76% of Amsterdam residents believe the same thing.

Other survey questions are easier to visualize. In this image, we can see that New Yorkers are more concerned about everything—cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, AIDS—than their counterparts around the world. Tokyo residents aren’t concerned about much beyond declining vision (at least out of the options given to them in this survey).

New Yorkers are also, of course, some of the most stressed city denizens around the world, with 21% of residents reporting that they’re very stressed. Abu Dhabi residents claim that they’re virtually stress-free—2% of residents say they’re very stressed, and 60% say they’re not stressed at all. Just 1% of Jakarta residents report being very stressed.

There is some good news on a global scale: 87% are satisfied by relationships with family and friends, and 80% are satisfied with the health of their families. These personal relationships are rated in the survey as being some of the biggest drivers of health and well-being.

But not everyone is confident that medical technology will keep them living to a ripe old age. Most respondents don’t believe that they will live longer than their parents, either. And the majority of respondents aren’t too excited about the promise of new health-related gadgets.

Clearly, companies like Philips have their work cut out for them.

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  • Andrew Grimes

    "Tokyo residents aren’t concerned about much beyond declining vision." This is nonsense and this comparative study meaningless as here in Tokyo and Japan we are two weeks away from the first year anniversary of the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and the three nuclear reactors meltdowns at Fukushima not so far away from Tokyo. Tokyo residents and all other East Japan residents in their tens of millions of real people are fearful of nuclear reactors, aftershocks and losing their jobs if they haven't already and are worried about the health of their children. In Tokyo we are less than 1 year after 3/11. This 'survey' is meaningless and thinly veiled propaganda to promote the idea that all is hunky dory in post triple disaster Japan. This report lacks compassion and respect for 40,000,000 people of the greater Tokyo and Kanto region, these people who have been through such terrible worry and stress constantly since March 11th 2011. Would you say that the people of Christchurch in New Zealand who have just reached the first year anniversary of their earthquake have no worries either? Shame on you. 
    Regards from Tokyo