The Israel Defense Forces’ personnel – especially those in desk jobs, but even
those in combat units – are getting fat.
“The obesity epidemic has not
skipped the IDF,” said Prof. Itamar Raz, Hadassah University Medical
Center’s leading metabolism and diabetes expert and head of the Israel Forum for
a Healthy Lifestyle.
Raz spoke on Thursday to announce the November
launch of “IDF Fitness and Health Month,” aimed at increasing awareness of the
need for a healthy lifestyle in the military.
The diabetes unit director
noted that many soldiers gain significant amounts of weight during their service
and do not exercise or eat properly. The awareness month is only one step toward
the goal of all IDF personnel changing their lifestyles and improving their
health, he added.
The forum has been working closely over the last two
years with the IDF’s unit on fitness for combat soldiers. The new campaign is
meant to upgrade the cooperation. The group of physicians and public health
experts said they would provide the IDF with all the knowhow on sports, medicine
and nutrition necessary for reducing obesity.
Almost half of the
country’s population is overweight, and a third of these people are obese. Some
500,000 are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Already, half a
million have been diagnosed with it, and an equal number have undiagnosed
diabetes. By 2030, two million Israelis are expected to be diabetic or suffering
from pre-diabetes, Raz stated.
The forum and the IDF held a fitness day
for commanders on Wednesday at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education near
Netanya. Participants were asked to sign a commitment to pursue a healthy
lifestyle in the IDF on a daily basis by promoting physical activity, proper
diet and drinking water.
Nir Laor, the forum’s directorgeneral, said his
organization aimed at disease prevention and health promotion on a national,
local and personal level.