Why do people from this Spanish region live longer than all other Europeans?

Spaniards are predicted to have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040, but there’s one Spanish region in particular where people just keep living longer.

Why do people from this Spanish region live longer than all other Europeans?
Photo: Bafomet-Jaén/Flickr

Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, has the population with the highest life expectancy in not only the country, but in Europe.

According to figures from Spain’s national stats agency INE, Galician men currently live on average to an age of 83 years and 4 months and Galician women to 86 years and 4 months.

In fact, it’s estimated that in the last decade Galicia’s 2.7 million inhabitants have gained an average 2 years and 4 months of life, and 3 years and 3 months over the last 20 years.

That means that Galicians are currently only surpassed in the longevity tables by the Japanese, whose average age hovers just under the 84-year mark.

With a projected average lifespan of nearly 85.8 years in 20 years, Spaniards as a whole are expected to outlive all other nations by 2040.

Experts forecast Galicia will beat all other Spanish autonomous communities in the life expectancy rankings when that day comes. 

Photo: Instituto Siglo XXI/Flickr

So what is it about this unique region with a distinctive culture from the rest of Spain that helps its residents live longer?

Well, it certainly isn’t thanks to the weather. Galicia is the region of Europe where it rains most often, its protruding geographical location meaning it gets more rainfall than anywhere in the UK or north-western regions of France such as Normandy or Brittany.

The chief reason for Galicians’ longevity is their diet, but not the Mediterranean one commonly associated with Spain, Italy and France; the lesser-known Atlantic one.

The Atlantic diet is largely composed of seasonal, locally sourced, fresh and minimally processed produce.

In terms of how it compares to the Mediterranean diet, food preparation favours stewing over frying and pig products such as cold meats (embutidos) are not as prevalent as in other parts of Spain’s local cuisines. Instead the staple food is fish and seafood.


“Atlantic cuisine has an abundance of vegetables, fruit, fish, shellfish and olive oil, even the veal comes from cows reared in freedom”, Felipe F. Casanueva, professor of medicine at the University of Santiago de Compostela, told Spanish daily El Español.

For Casanueva there's no doubt that the Atlantic diet is the main reason Galicians live on average a year longer than their Andalusian counterparts in the south of Spain, but he admits that “in Galicia we’ve been more concerned about eating Atlantic-style cuisine than promoting it or studying it”.

 Photo: Santi Villamarín/Flickr

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime