Icelanders’ health improved amid recession

Iceland coat of armsA recent report has shown that most Icelandic residents saw their health improve following the country’s 2008 economic collapse.

The news comes via a recent study conducted by the University of Iceland, Rider University and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, which said that Icelanders tended to refrain from behaviour that entails high health risks in the wake of the country’s economic downturn just a few years ago. Moreover, the report suggests that some Icelanders even turned to health-promoting activities during the period.

Figures from the survey showed that between 2007 and 2009, residents in the North Atlantic nation cut back on heavy drinking, artificial tanning and smoking and also reduced consumption levels of sugary and fast foods. At the same time, researchers say they were more likely to get healthy amounts of sleep and consume more fish oil.

However, Icelanders also reduced the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed during the recession, according to the report.

Experts say similar results have been seen during recessions in other parts of the globe, with research pointing to reduced mortality rates.

Jonathan Gruber, a health economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “There is a pretty broad literature on this and the consensus seems to be that recessions are good for health.”

However, other figures refute the theory, as a study from the United Kingdom has shown that economic turmoil can cause higher workloads and associated stress. Similarly, residents in the United States tend to forego medical treatment due to economic stress, a report from the Kaiser Foundation revealed last month.