At least 50% of the world population suffer from overweight and obesity, compared with the situation in the 1980s, when only 10% of the population was obese, according to worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. If the rate of weight gain remains as it is today, close to half the people on planet Earth will be obese by the year 2030. Israel’s figures are relatively good compared with the rest of the OECD countries, but still, according to the Israeli Health Ministry, 1.7 million Israelis, or 25% of adults and 14% of children, are obese, and out of those 700 thousand are considered pre-diabetic, and 500 thousand already suffer from type 2 diabetes. Also, adding those who are overweight (BMI of 25 and up) to the 25% who are obese, shows that almost half the population in Israel is overweight.
To illustrate, according to The Marker, in one of the meetings of the commission to promote a healthy diet, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said ironically, “We fail to understand how come 50% of the population are not overweight, considering the current consumer culture.”
The Health Ministry has recently launched a campaign against the consumption of soda drinks, which are a kind of statewide plague. A survey conducted in local schools has shown that Israeli children are at the top of the world average in their daily consumption of sweetened drinks. The world average for consuming sweet drinks is 25% of girls and 32% of boys. The average in the US is 30% among girls and 37% among boys.
In Israel the average is 41% for girls, 45% for boys — while for Israeli Arab children it is even higher, as 51% of Arab children ages 11 to 15 consume a sweet drink at least once a day.
It is well-known today that an overweight child will likely suffer from obesity in adulthood. In Israel every fifth first grader (20%) is overweight, and by the seventh grade 30% — one in three children — are overweight.
Among Arab children the situation is even worse, with close to 40% of Arab seventh graders suffering from overweight.
In Israel, some 70% of the food being consumed is processed, which is why Israeli children and teens consume 12 grams of sodium daily, easily double the recommended amount.
Diabetes in Israel harms the weaker population strata, most notably the Arabs. The rate of diabetes among the poor is three times higher compared with middle and upper class Israelis. An estimated 25.5% of Israeli poor are diabetic, compared with 7.1% Israeli middle and upper class. The rate of the rise of diabetes among the poor in Israel is swift and alarming, jumping in 12 years from 7.8% in 2002 to 25.5% in 2014.
According to the Health Ministry, the cost of obesity is estimated at $1.55 billion annually, with a third of the cost coming from direct care for obese patients and two-thirds from indirect losses, such as reduced earning ability, sick days and nursing care. Israel’s largest HMO, Maccabi Health Services, has submitted to the Health Ministry data suggesting it spends on diabetic patients 53% more than it does on the average insured member.
Israeli Health Ministry’s anti-soda drinking campaign JNi.Media