The Health Ministry issued a biennial report on “Health Knowledge, Positions and Behaviors” on Monday to mark World Health Day.
Those who participated monitored themselves and reported their health condition, smoking, activity levels, diet, consumption of water and soft drinks, body mass index, mammograms, hours of sleep, dental hygiene and even use of tanning beds.
Dr. Tami Shohat of the Israel Center for Disease Control said that it was impossible to know how many of those interviewed told the truth about their weight, exercise level, smoking and other “sensitive” matters, but that such a problem existed in all surveys about health.
According to survey results, Israeli adults sleep for an average of 6.6 hours daily – the recommended minimum is seven hours. More than half of participants admitted that they get less than that. A total of 49.4 percent of Arabs said they get seven to nine hours of sleep, compared to only 44.1% of Jews.
A total of 62% of those questioned said their own health was excellent or very good, 61.6% among Jews of 64% among Arabs. Among Jewish residents, men were more likely than women to say their health was excellent or very good, and the rate of such positive responses declined as the age group went up.
Over two-thirds of those interviewed said their mental health was very good; Jews were 1.3 times more likely to say this than Arab Israelis.
As for smoking, Arabs’ self-reported rate was 1.3 times higher than that of Jews – 24.9% compared to 19.8%. The survey showed that few Arab women smoked, although the same could not be said of Jewish women.
Arabs are less likely to kick the habit than Jews, but when asked if they are interested in stopping smoking, Arabs were 1.5 times more likely to say “yes” than Jewish men.
Men in general are 1.9 times more likely to smoke than women – 27.2% and 14.5%, respectively.
Among former smokers, the rate of Arabs who reported that someone else still smokes at home was twice as high as among Jews. Less than a third of those interviewed said they felt confident enough to ask smokers who lit up in public places to put out their cigarettes.
More than 54% of Israelis said they did most of their work sitting down, in comparison to 23% who do it standing up and 15% while walking.
The survey showed that 8% of Israelis perform physical work that requires lifting and carrying heavy objects.
Jewish employees are 1.9 times more likely to work from a chair compared to Arabs.
Thirty-five percent of those questioned said they exercised for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, with the rate among Jews 1.3 times higher that of Arabs.
The most popular exercise among all groups was walking, with over 59% preferring it to swimming and other activities.
Among women, Arabs were 1.2 times more likely to do housework for more than two hours daily compared to Jews.
More than 36% of those questioned conceded that they did not do enough exercise to preserve good health.
More than 60% said they eat together as a family around the table at least once every day or almost every day – the rate was highest among Jews and women of any nationality. Eating a meal together has been shown by researchers to promote family cohesion, improve nutrition, reduce obesity and improve children’s grades and normative behavior.
Despite huge sales of cola and other sweetened drinks, half of those questioned said they regularly drank tap water – Arabs much more often than Jews. Two-thirds admitted to drinking bottled water and 47% said they drank water from filtering devices at home.
As for weight, almost half reported that they had a “normal” body mass index, while 4.7% said they were underweight, 30% considered themselves overweight and 15.7% reported themselves as obese.
Some 82.6% of women aged 50-74 said they underwent a mammogram during the past two years (as recommended), while the rate was 83.7% among Jewish women and 76.8% among Arab women.
As for the unhealthy practice of using artificial tanning techniques, 1.6% of those questioned admitted that they used a tanning bed or other techniques at least once on their lives – this practice is known to increase the risk of skin cancer.
The survey, with an average 3% margin of error, included people from over 5,000 households around the country and was conducted in 2012 over the telephone and its data recently processed and configured.