Report shows Israelis are gaining weight and smoking more

Healthcare professional warns of obesity epidemic in the country, with heavier smoking due to COVID, widespread increased levels of anxiety and electronic cigarettes

Adir Yanko|
The Israeli population is experiencing growing rates of obesity and smoking, said a report by National Program for Quality Indicators published Tuesday.
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  • According to the data, some 59% of the population in the 20-64 age group is overweight. Among Israelis over the age of 65, 40% of men and 30% of women are overweight.
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    Additionally, 26.7% of Israeli women in the same age range are overweight, pointing to a dramatic increase - in comparison to 2012 when this figure stood at 20.4%. As for men, 23.3% are overweight, in comparison to 22% in 2012.
    "We're in the midst a global epidemic that has reached Israel - the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Oyero, a specialist in family medicine and an obesity doctor at Maccabi Health Services. "Obesity is a chronic, multi-systemic disease that must be treated professionally, since it leads to many illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and mental and emotional problems.
    "The data shows that the epidemic is weakening among the overall population, but we know that those in a low socio-economic group are more exposed to it," he added.
    The other findings that raised concerns were those pointing to the smoking rates in Israel. Some 20.1% of Israelis aged 16-74 smoke, in comparison to 19.6% in 2019.
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    "In recent years we're seeing an increase in smokers in the overall population and also among teenagers," said Professor Yossi Azouri, an expert in family medicine at Maccabi Health Services and one of the founders of Israel's Medical Association for the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Smoking of the Israel.
    Like in obesity, the low socio-economic sectors of the population are more prone to smoking. Furthermore, the COVID pandemic contributed to higher smoking rates due to widespread increased levels of stress and anxiety, the professor explained.
    "Another factor that was introduced in the past few years and contributes to the increase in smoking rates, especially amongst the youth - electronic cigarettes," Azouri said.
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