Over a million Israelis now have diabetes or its precursor

Ahead of World Diabetes Day, national council slams junk food as key cause of the disease; Raz: “Every serving of junk food shortens the life of Israelis.”

Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Breaking news
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Fast food is among the causes of Type 2 diabetes, which has been diagnosed in over 500,000 Israelis, while an equal number remain undiagnosed and others express symptoms of metabolic syndrome – a precursor to diabetes.
“Every serving of junk food shortens the life of Israelis,” said Prof. Itamar Raz, chairman of the National Diabetes Council and head of the diabetes unit at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
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World Diabetes Day will be marked here and abroad on Sunday.
A 10-year Boston University study, focusing on 44,000 women aged 30 to 69, showed that long-term consumption of junk food such as hamburgers, fried chicken and fish, as well as french fries, sweet Chinese food and other high-fat, high-calorie, processed foods significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, in which the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to metabolize blood sugar or the insulin that exists is not efficient at metabolism.
That study and many others will be presented on Monday, November 22, at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds through the initiative of the national council and the Juvenile Diabetes Association.
Type 2 diabetes can in many cases be prevented with a switch to a more healthful diet and regular exercise. Type 1 diabetes – also known as juvenile diabetes – is an autoimmune disease that usually begins in children, with the body’s immune system destroying the beta cells of the pancreas until they no longer produce insulin.
Some 2,500 Israelis die of complications of diabetes every year. In a single year, a quarter of diabetes patients are hospitalized, says the national council.
Among the complications are kidney disease, blindness, limb amputation, heart disease and stroke. But careful control of sugar values along with that of blood pressure and blood fats can reduce or even prevent the advance of complications, said Dr. Ilana Herman Boehm, head of the diabetes clinic at Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center.
According to estimates by foreign experts, between 30 and 40 percent of all adults will develop diabetes at some time in their lives due to the threat of obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet.
Olga Raz, head of the clinical dietitians’ unit at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, says that a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and whole grains can prevent diabetes and improve sugar and insulin balance in diabetics. These types of carbohydrates have a low glycemic index, thus preventing wild irregularity in blood sugar levels. She advises that diabetics eat small, frequent meals every three to four hours rather than only three larger meals per day.
Diabetics can use both olive and canola oils and can eat an unlimited amount of vegetables of all colors, Raz said. She recommends drinking a lot of water and unsugared drinks – artificial sweeteners are permissible – rather than fruit juices or sodas.