Report shows rise in obesity, smoking among Israelis

Benita Levin

i24NEWS presenter

3 min read
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy smokes a cigarette in Jerusalem's neighborhood of Mea Shearim.
AHMAD GHARABLI / AFPAn ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy smokes a cigarette in Jerusalem's neighborhood of Mea Shearim.

'We need to look at the younger generation and to see what example we are setting for them'

A new report by Israel's National Program for Quality Indicators published on Tuesday shows a significant increase in obesity rates and smoking among Israelis. 

According to the survey, nearly 59 percent of the country’s population aged between 20 and 64 is overweight. Among Israelis over the age of 65, about 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are also suffering from obesity, which could lead to serious chronic diseases. 

Professor Diane Levin, National Director of Health Promotion at Israel's Clalit Health Services, told i24NEWS that part of the problem was the lifestyle that many Israelis got accustomed to during the Covid pandemic. 

“Firstly, we are coming out of coronavirus and we still have to bounce back. Let’s look at who we should be focusing on - children, youth, many of them and many of their parents as well have become so attached to screens and have the lifestyle that corona has brought us,” she said. 

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The report also showed an alarming increase in the number of smokers in Israel. Some 20.1 percent of Israelis aged 16-74 smoke, compared to 19.6 percent in 2019. Levin said that it was also important to look at the younger generation and “to see what example we are setting for them.”

“We need all hands on deck. We need regulation to be enforced to make sure that we are not exposing particularly kids and youth to tobacco products and we need to make sure they are not available to them,” she noted, adding that it was necessary to have “smoke-free homes and homes that are making health food” available to Israeli children.  

“We need a national health plan that will help the budget and will help all the stakeholders to promote health in the families,” she stressed. 

Levin noted that during the World Cup, which kicked off on Sunday, many families were watching the games together and expressed hope that they are “having healthy snacks and don’t forget to move around.” 

She also emphasized the increase in mental issues and anxiety among the youth, which also leads to eating disorders. The expert encouraged parents to listen to their children and to support them as many have experienced “extreme loneliness” during the pandemic and need help getting back into “social situations.”  

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