Four-day-old Abby wears an eye shade as she undergoes light therapy to treat jaundice at a hospital in Winnipeg, Canada, December 19, 2005. REUTERS/Shaun Best

Canada outperforms the United States in health outcomes but is well behind global leaders like Japan in overall health of its population, a Canadian report released on Monday showed.

The annual report card by the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 10th out of 16 developed countries, with a B grade. The United States was the worst performer, placing 16th and earning a D grade.

Canada has been at the center of much of the debate on U.S. health care reform. Since Canada ranks ahead of the United States on all but one indicator of health status ... it is clear that we are getting better results, Gabriela Prada, director of health policy at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

But when we look beyond the narrow Canada-U.S. comparison to the rest of the world, Canadians rank in the middle of the pack in terms of their health status, Prada said.

Most of the data on which the report card was based is from 2006, the group said.

President Barack Obama has pledged to reform the country's healthcare system, which is expensive and leaves millions of Americans without coverage. Canada, with its single-payer government-run system, is often held out as an example to be praised or derided by U.S. critics.

The Conference Board, which has been issuing the report card since 1996, ranked the 16 countries according to 11 criteria, including life expectancy, mortality due to cancer, circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases, metal disorders, as well as infant mortality and self-reported health status.

Japan was once again the top-ranking country. Switzerland, Italy, and Norway also earned A grades.

B grades were given to Sweden, France, Finland, Germany, Australia and Canada, while Netherlands, Austria and Ireland earned a C grade, the report showed.

Along with the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom got D grades.

Canada and the United States both earned A grades on self-reported health status, ranking first and second, respectively, among the 16 countries.

Canada ranked higher than the United States on all of the mortality measures except for mortality due to cancer, a criteria for which both countries earned a B grade.

The Conference Board said top-performing countries achieved better health outcomes on broad actions such as environmental stewardship and health promotion programs that focus on changes in lifestyle, along with education, early childhood development, and income to improve health outcomes.

Rank Country Grade

1 Japan A

2 Switzerland A  

3 Italy A

4 Norway A

5 Sweden B

6 France B

7 Finland B

8 Germany B

9 Australia B

10 Canada B

11 Netherlands C

12 Austria C

13 Ireland C

14 United Kingdom D

15 Denmark D

16 United States D

Source: The Conference Board of Canada