About 25 percent of Israeli children can be considered overweight, which “dramatically increases their risk of acquiring diabetes later in life,” according to information released by the Health Ministry on Thursday.
About 435,000 citizens are currently diagnosed as diabetics, the ministry said, and, according to “conservative estimates,” a further 200,000 “suffer from the disease or its early symptoms, but are as yet not diagnosed.”
In response, the government has introduced a program that promotes “healthy nutrition habits and physical activity among all population groups,” especially children, the Health Ministry said. Part of the program includes encouragement for kindergarten teachers to “reduce the consumption of sweets and foods full of sugar,” especially at birthday parties.
Diabetes, a metabolic disease which leads to high blood sugar and other complications, can be fatal if left untreated. The most common variant (Type 2) is mostly inherited, and can be triggered by lifestyle choices, such as eating too much foods high in sugar and/or lack of exercise, common in the Western world.
The ministry released the figures in conjunction with World Diabetes Day, November 14, which is an international educational effort on the dangers of the disease initiated by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation in 1991.