A new poll shows that Israelis in junior high and high schools are among the most weight-conscious in the world. Of boys in those grades, 21 percent say they diet on a regular basis to stay in shape, the highest percentage of any of that cohort in Europe or North America. Among girls, 29 percent said they dieted on a regular basis.
The poll was conducted as part of a World Health Organization study, and took into account the eating and exercise habits of a cross-section of 14,000 Israeli teens. According to the poll, males in that group in Israel are more weight-conscious than in any other country studied. Among girls, only those in the Denmark and Poland were more concerned about their weight than Israelis.
According to the research, “dieting” for Israeli youth means laying off sugary soft drinks, drinking a lot of water, and either reducing portion size or skipping meals altogether. Many youths also exercise regularly, with running among the most popular activities.
According to the Health Ministry, more than a quarter of Israeli kids are overweight, due mostly to their overconsumption of processed foods, and a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Among adults, 37 percent are overweight. Both figures are significantly better than in most European countries and the U.S., the Ministry said.