(photo credit: Courtesy)
The rapid rise in food prices endangers public health, especially those of the socio-economically deprived and many children and elderly. The situation requires the government to take immediate action, according to Hadassah University Medical Center clinical nutrition director Dorit Adler.
She told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the growing costs -- way out of proportion to price rises around the world -- of basic, nutritious food are a "major risk factor" for health. The Knesset is preparing a bill to set up a "council for food insecurity" while at the same time the government has removed most of the remaining food products from price control, she said.
Because "junk food" such as simple carbohydrates like white flour and sugar are harmful to health and remain relatively cheap, the poor, the elderly and children are at high risk for obesity, which is a major health danger, said Adler. Growing numbers in these sectors are suffering from inadequate nutrition.
"Studies," she continued, have shown that the damage can continue through the generations. Pregnant women getting poor nutrition can pass the problem on to their unborn children. "Among the diseases are obesity and heart disorders, she said, that develop later in life. Obesity during pregnancy also significantly raises the risk of gestational diabetes, speeding up health and economic inequity in the population." These disorders cost the state a large sum to treat them, Adler continued.
The government is "blind" to these dangers, the clinical nutritionist and dietitian said. The government must supervise prices of basic foods such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes so that all residents can afford them.
"This is not a luxury," said Adler. "It is the obligation of the state towards its citizens to ensure that they have this as a basic right to health. It is important that a basic nutrition basket be supervised by the Health Ministry, as it has responsibility for promoting the health of the population," added Adler, who described herself not only as a dietitian but also as a "concerned citizen."