Physical activity general 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will decide on Monday whether the state
will adopt and implement through 2015 a comprehensive national plan to educate
the public and encourage it to adopt a healthy lifestyle instead of focusing
only on treating disease.
If approved, the plan would encourage physical
exercise by adults and children; explain proper nutrition; encourage the
workplace to promote employees’ good health; discourage the sale of junk food in
school vending machines and serving it in cafeterias; reduce the smoking rate;
promote the development of new food varieties with higher nutritional values;
restrict advertising of unhealthful food to minors via the media; and require
the labeling of nutritional values in restaurants and fast-food shops and the
listing of calories in unwrapped foods sold in stores and outdoor markets. It
would also discourage the sale of dangerous trans fats in processed
All this would entail new legislation and amendments.
plan was initiated by the Health Ministry, which – if approved – will implement
and coordinate it with a number of other ministries. The proposed Health
Ministry budget designated for this over the next five years would include NIS
26 million annually (NIS 130m. in total), plus NIS 31m. a year from other
ministries (NIS 155m.). In addition, 31 job slots for health promoters would be
hired through 2013 at Health Ministry expense.
The plan follows years of
preparation by committees under the auspices of the Health Ministry’s Toward a
Healthy Future 2020 plan.
Among the other ministries to be involved are
Interior, Finance, Agriculture, Communications, Education, Culture and Sport and
Industry, Trade and Labor. If the Ministerial Committee on Legislation gives the
go ahead, a steering committee will present its proposals to the cabinet within
The plan was formulated out of the realization that obesity,
heart disease and other disorders result from unhealthy lifestyles in the
population – causing suffering and disability, raising hospitalization rates and
shortening life spans.
The changes would be carried out in coordination
with previous recommendations by the World Health Organization and meetings in
Paris last year of OECD countries.
All the guidelines have been prepared
based on scientific evidence on what promotes good health, reduces socioeconomic
gaps in public health and promotes interaction with the public and with
professional and public organizations, the Health Ministry said on
According to the latest statistics, 37 percent of Israelis aged
18 and over are overweight and an additional 15% are obese. It is additionally
worrisome that 14% of youths aged 12 to 18 are overweight and 7% are obese –
thus over a fifth have improper weight. The ministry said that only 35% of
Israeli adults exercise regularly, but the figure is just 20% in the Arab
sector. Just a fifth of children aged 11 to 15 exercise at least four times a
week, and 29% of adolescents exercise two or three times a week.
physical exertion declines in the population, there has been an increase in
blood pressure, blood sugar and fats, the ministry said.
cost the economy NIS 5.6 billion a year.
Meanwhile, while congratulating
the ministry on presenting the program, a group of health consumer organizations
commented that it would not help people who are already ill and demanded that
the budget for health promotion and disease prevention not come at the the
expense of funds to treat disease.
The ministry is now hosting a meeting
of the WHO’s European Region of which Israel is a member, and the new plan is
being discussed there. Ministers, directors-general and other senior officials
from 47 European countries are present.
A professional conference – the
first of its kind – is also being held to promote coordination among various
government ministries, local authorities, business interests and other
organizations to promote good health.