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Israeli Childhood Obesity Nears American Rates

According to new study, 17 percent of Israeli children are overweight

Romy Zipken
July 26, 2013


Israelis have always taken a liking to American culture, be it our idioms or our television shows. Like how it’s not uncommon to get a phone call from an Israeli friend asking if you’ve seen The Wire. “We should watch it together,” he says. “Sheeeeeit,” he adds, impersonating Clay Davis but sounding more like Ron Ben-Yishai.

Unfortunately, Israelis are now emulating a grimmer American trend. Israeli childhood obesity rates have just about matched those of American children. In 2010, 18 percent of American children were obese. In 2013, 17 percent of Israel’s are too, the Jerusalem Post reports. The study was conducted by New York’s Mount Sinai-Icahn School of Medicine and Clalit Health Services’ Emek Medical Center in Afula. But while the research is new, it seems the same old causes are to blame, like high junk food consumption and a lack of exercise.

“Considering the shift in this area from a traditionally Mediterranean diet to a more Western diet and lifestyle, we are interested in understanding the impact of this on public health,” said Dr. Jonathan Ripp, associate director of Mount Sinai Global Health (a new, institution-wide interdisciplinary program at The Icahn School of Medicine) and site mentor for the American team. “Given the staggering long-term public health implications of childhood and adolescent obesity, studies such as this have critical implications for helping government, health and social institutions develop better policies for the prevention and treatment of obesity and its consequences,” Ripp said.

Maybe Sara Netanyahu will take a tip from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign—an American trend worth imitating.

Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.