Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


Westfjords residents happier and eat less vegetables than other Icelanders

By Staff

  • Látrabjarg cliffs The stunning landscapes of the Westfjords might be a factor when it comes to explaining the happiness of Westfjords residents. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson.

Life in a small fishing village in a remote fjord at the edge of the inhabitable world is good for your mental health, a new study from the Icelandic Directorate of Health suggests.

Residents of the remote Westfjords region are on significantly happier than other Icelanders the study into the health and quality of life in different parts of Iceland reveals. According to this study 65% of Westfjords residents ranked their happiness as 8 or more on a 10 point scale. The national average was 61%. The consumption of anti-depressants is also lower in the Westfjords than in other parts of Iceland. 

What explains the figures?

Vestfirðir, Westfjords

The sea and the mountains Life in the narrow fjords of the Westfjords is lived where the ocean meets the mountains. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The study does not offer much in the manner of an explanation of this finding. It does, however, suggest that eating vegetables and fruit does not increase happiness: Westfjords residents eat less greens than people in other parts of Iceland. Just 6.4% eat five serving of fruits and vegetables each week. The national average is 10.1%.

Westfjords residents are, however, far more likely to get to work or school by foot or bicycle. 38.2% said they get to work by foot or bike at least three times each week. The national average is 20.3%. Teenage girls in the Westfjords also have a more positive body image than girls in other parts of the country, with 63.2% who say they are happy with their body, compared to a national average of 56%. 

Read more: The population of the Westfjords continues to shrink, down by 34% in the past 34 years

We at Iceland Magazine would like to speculate that the unparalleled beauty of the Westfjords, where steep mountainsides meet the ocean and falcons and sea eagles glide above the fjords searching for fish, while whales swim in the depth, as well as the experience of living in a small fishing village might be factors. The Westfjords, with its numerous small villages, are the most sparsely populated part of Iceland.

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