Craig Lebrau
Craig Lebrau

The challenges faced by Israelis regarding obesity and addiction

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Obesity is a global epidemic which causes a multitude of health problems for patients all over the world, and it continues to rise. Israel is no different, with reports of a growing problem in the population regarding obesity. Sixty-two percent of men from a study done in 2018 were found to be overweight. 

The problem with being overweight is not just a problem of vanity, but that there are many different types of health problems that can quickly become fatal that overweight individuals are at risk for, such as heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer. For those who are lucky, they may be able to get away with minor chronic problems such as diabetes and hypertension, but the problem is there and the solution is an easy one. Eat more healthy meals and participate in healthy activities such as sports and exercise. 

Gold’s Gym created a movement in the realm of weight lifting in America, and without a doubt, that’s the kind of movement that is needed in Israel in order to combat their current problems of having a largely overweight and sedentary population. Creating a culture of healthy living is paramount to getting the populace to change their ways and motivate them to exercise more and eat healthier. The problem with obesity rates is largely due to socioeconomic standing and their knowledge and exposure on these topics. 

According to current reports, both men and women of low socioeconomic status are found to be much more likely to be obese, as opposed to those of high socioeconomic standing. Similarly, nicotine addiction is more likely to hamper those of lower socioeconomic backgrounds rather than those who have better education and financial resources. Perhaps it is due to the lack of financial resources that has led those in lower socioeconomic standing to turn to cheap and high calorie food, or even to splurge on food because it’s the only luxury they are able to afford. However, exercise on the other hand is something that is seen as something of a luxury. If you have extra time on your hands, you would more than likely invest it in doing something productive rather than burning off the fat that you have so painstakingly added to your body through long hours at work. Being able to eat is a luxury that isn’t always afforded by the lower classes, which is why simply having something to eat is a blessing to them. On the other hand, those who have more than enough money do not have to worry about these problems. If they are getting too heavy, they can simply go to the gym or hire a personal trainer or even nutritionist to ensure that they aren’t carrying around excess calories. All of these cost money, and it’s not something that the majority has. 

Furthermore, it is much more likely that the wealthier populace spends more time on sleep, whereas those who come from poorer backgrounds will have to work through the night or suffer from a lack of sleep. According to recent research, sleep deprivation is the number one cause of obesity and it has nothing to do with exercise at all. While it is true that exercise can help us lower our fat content by increasing muscle mass, the fact is that you can’t get slim and healthy with exercise alone. Having the resources to sleep is not something that everyone can afford, especially with the wealth disparity in a country like Israel. 

Obesity isn’t the only battle that is being fought in Israel. They are also trying to curb the rising number of anti-vaxxers and the problem of smoking addiction. The fight against smoking has been on-going in recent years and has affected several policy and law changes. However, it doesn’t seem to be curbing the rise of smokers. There has been a ban on tobacco advertising and marketing in Israel, meaning that tobacco products are not allowed to be advertised on Israeli websites, local media, or in the public sphere. Smoking has also been banned in several bodies of entertainment areas such as amusement parks, sports stadiums, bars, and theatres. These restrictions have failed to bring the numbers of smokers down, despite the fact that there was a huge drop in smokers in the 1980s. That number rose in 2016 to 22.5%, before dipping another 20% prior to 2021. It is the aim of the government to continue decreasing the amount of people smoking in Israel and it is something that is just as pressing as the obesity issue that they are currently facing.

In other news, there has been increasing numbers of HIV cases in Israel prior to recent updates of preventative treatment which has successfully controlled the cases so that numbers are down 5.2% in 2020. 

About the Author
Craig Lebrau is the Director of Cato Media. A former programmer, Craig is interested in Israel's startup ecosystem and aims to share his insights learnt from expanding to and managing business in Israel.
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