Australia: first in overall health and life expectancy for schizophrenia

The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. It was developed by the World Health Organization in the 1990s as a way of comparing the overall health and life expectancy of different countries. (Wiki)

Australia ranks dead last (#192) compared to other countries in the measurement of the effect of the overall disease burden (DALY) for schizophrenia. Which means, people diagnosed with schizophrenia enjoy longer lives, work more, and have better health in Australia than in other countries.

Could this surprising finding be due to Australian’s well known consumption of Vegemite, that foul tasting brown yeast that gets spread on toast starting in infancy? Vegemite’s got plenty of B vitamins: B1 – essential for brain vitality, B2 to support the nervous system, B3 energy release, and folate to fight fatigue. Sounds exactly like what the doctor ordered. Well, Dr. Abram Hoffer, at least.

Other countries have their own versions of spreadable B vitamins, notably Marmite (United Kingdom) and Vitam-R (Germany), and these countries have got respectable DALY scores (185 and 179), but Australia is still far in the lead. In World War I, Marmite was supplied to┬áBritish soldiers’ as part of their rations, in order to prevent beri beri, a B vitamin deficiency disease.

The only reason that I can think of as to why Australia is on top is that Vegemite is a part of their culture and children start eating it early, rather like what peanut butter is to the average North American diet. Sure, Germany’s got Vitam-R, which tastes way better than Vegemite and Marmite and has more B vitamins, but I don’t think it’s a cultural phenomenon to the same extent as it is in Australia, and therefore it may be consumed less.

If you are living in one of those countries that doesn’t have a tradition of liking dark brown yeasty goo on its toast in the morning, think about making a switch.