Half of all Israelis 'suffer' from chronic happiness

Despite Israelis' many problems and complaints, the Health Ministry's National Health Survey has found that nearly half of all adults felt "happy most or all of the time" during the four weeks before being surveyed. The self-reported happiness rating was 49.4 percent for Jewish men and 46.5% for Jewish women, compared to 44.1% and 46.7% for Arab men and women respectively. The 85-page survey, released for publication on Sunday by the ministry's Center for Disease Control, was based on extensive questionnaires answered in telephone interviews by a representative sample of 10,000 Israelis 21 years or over during 2003 and 2004. It was conducted as part of the World Health Organization's EUROHIS health survey and was the largest national health survey conducted so far. Although it was carried out during the second intifada, 65.4% of Jewish males and 54.2% of Jewish females said they felt "relaxed and calm" most or all the time during the month before being queried, compared to 45.2% of Arab males and 40.3% of Arab females. Only 2.8% of Jewish men and 4.7% of Jewish women said they had felt depressed during the month before being interviewed, compared to 3.6% of Arab men and 7% of Arab women. At the same time, 10.1% of the Jewish men and 14.6% of Jewish women said they felt tense or stressed during that period, compared to 18% of Arab men and 22.3% of Arab women. Other findings were: • Nearly a third of the adult population claimed they do physical activity in their leisure time (at least three times a week for 20 minutes each time), with Arab women least likely to exercise. • Almost 70% of Jewish women aged 50 to 74 went for mammography screening for breast cancer during the previous two years, as recommended, compared to 47.6% of their Arab counterparts. • Almost 70% of the adult population had their blood pressure tested during the previous year (with women a bit more likely to do so than men and the Jewish and Arab rates very similar). • Nearly 59% of the population had their blood cholesterol checked during the previous year, with 51.4% of the women and only 44% of the men having had the test. • Over 70% of the Israeli population define their state of health as "very good" or "good, with 74.8% of the men and 68.7% of the men saying so. Jewish women were 10% more likely to say so than their Arab counterparts and Arab men 6% more likely to say so. • 15.4% of the population said they had been diagnosed with hypertension, with women more likely to have been diagnosed than men. Nearly 17% had been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol and 5.5% had ischemic heart disease. • Nearly 6% of the population over 21 had been diagnosed with diabetes, with higher rates in Arabs, especially women, than in Jews. • Over 14% were obese (over 30 body mass index), with women slightly more likely to be obese than men. Nearly 12% said they had a chronic disability. • Women were more likely than men to have consulted with their family doctor during the month before being queried; 14% had been hospitalized during the year before participating in the survey, with rates significantly higher among Arabs compared to Jews. • Nearly 6% of the population had been diagnosed with asthma; 9.1% of the women and 4.5% of the men said they had migraine or other frequent headaches.