Health minister: Whole-wheat food must be cheaper

Yael German calls for lowered prices to reduce risk of developing diabetes and making it easier for diabetics to eat properly.

Whole wheat bread (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Whole wheat bread
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Health Minister Yael German will fight to reduce the cost of wholegrain bread and food from other grains, to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and making it easier for diabetics to eat properly, she said on Sunday.
Whole grains release sugar more slowly into the blood stream, but they are more expensive in supermarkets and groceries, even though the bleaching of whole-grain flour is more expensive than just grinding it up for whole-grained food.
German said that the diabetes epidemic worries her and is spreading in the population, especially in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors.
International Diabetes Awareness Day, held around the world on November 14 and established by the International Diabetes Federation, is aimed at increasing awareness of the lifestyle disease of type II diabetes, as well as the autoimmune type I diabetes that begins usually in young children.
Heads of the Israel Juvenile Diabetes Association and the Israel Diabetes Society met with German and complained that last year, not a single new drug for type I or type II diabetes was added to the basket of services, even though new technologies have been approved by licensing authorities. The lack of enough clinics for type I diabetes is leaving youngsters without proper care, they argued.
There are today 500,000 diagnosed type II diabetics and 200,000 more who have symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed; they total almost one percent of the population.
If nothing serious is done to prevent the disease by changing lifestyles, the percentage of diagnosed type II diabetics will reach 12.5% of the population by 2030, they said.
The voluntary organization Mehayom, an Israeli forum to improve lifestyles and prevent diabetes, said on Sunday that one out of seven Israelis die of diabetes complications.
One out of three first graders, at this rate, is destined to contract type II diabetes by the age of 40.
Treatment of the disease with drugs and/or insulin constitutes one-fifth of annual health expenditures, Mehayom heads said, urging that the whole population learn to eat right and exercise regularly.
Diabetes’s complications are the fourth-most-common cause of death in Israel after cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Each year, they cause the death of 2,500 Israelis (or seven people per day).
In addition, 82% of limb amputations are due to complications from diabetes. Complications affect the kidneys, eyes, nervous system, blood vessels, heart and lower limbs.
Prof. Itamar Raz, founder and chairman of Mehayom and head of the diabetes unit at Hadassah University Medical Center, said that “Israelis are getting fatter. With moderate budgets, we will be able to reach major achievements and reduce the cost of treating diabetes for the benefit of the economy.”
Raz added that the diabetes epidemic is largely due to the failure of society and the medical and educational systems in focusing for years solely on treating patients.
“Educating toward awareness of the importance of a healthy way of life, while performing early diagnosis of high-risk populations and treatment, would have reduced the numbers by tens of percentage points in a few years.”