Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eating Healthy

Aviel Yelinek

In recent years we have seen an increasing awareness of healthy nutrition. Every few months, new research findings shed light on various aspects of good nutrition such as recommended foods, foods that should be avoided, and vitamins and minerals whose consumption is especially important. Chain store shelves are stocked with new “health” products. If in the past we settled for eating a bread roll or pita, today we are exposed to a variety of breads made of whole wheat, rye, and various grains. Ingredients that were known to only a few in the past, such as Omega-3 or bifidobacteria (bio yogurts), have received widespread public recognition, and today they are being added to many foods as part of the effort to market these foods as “healthier” than the competition. “Healthy” foods such as quinoa or whole grain (brown) rice are popular in many households these days.

In this context, the 2010 Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics provides interesting data regarding the nutrition habits of Jerusalem residents.

Dieticians advise eating breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day. Compared to residents of other major cities in Israel, Jerusalemites are the “healthiest” in this respect, and 66% of them are strict about eating breakfast every day. This figure compares to 61% of Haifa residents, 57% of Rishon LeZion residents, 55% of Israel’s residents, and 50% of Tel Aviv residents. Accordingly, the percentage of Jerusalemites who reported that they almost never eat breakfast (once a week or less often) was the lowest among the major cities, at 18%. This compares to 21% of Haifa residents, 24% of Israel’s residents, 28% of Rishon LeZion residents, and 31% of Tel Aviv residents.

Another question addressed eating habits regarding fruits and vegetables. Here too, Jerusalemites were found to be the “healthiest.” The percentage of Jerusalem residents who reported that they are extremely strict or very strict about eating fruits and vegetables stood at 74%. This is similar to Tel Aviv residents (74%) and higher than the figure for residents of Israel (68%), Haifa (67%), and Rishon LeZion (66%).

It is interesting to note that compared to residents of the other major cities, Jerusalemites are less strict about examining the nutritional ingredients on food packages. The percentage of Jerusalem residents who reported doing so frequently or sometimes stood at 49%, lower than the percentage for residents of Israel (57%), Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion (65%), and Haifa (67%).

Source: Analysis of data from the Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

To smoke or not to smoke?

Inbal Doron

During 2010, the Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics explored the issue of health in depth and collected a large amount of data about cigarette smoking in Israel. Approximately 1,270,000 individuals aged 20 and above reported that they currently smoke. This figure represents 27% of Israel’s population for the 20+ age group. Among these smokers, 64% are men and 36% are women. In Jerusalem, 105,000 individuals indicated that they currently smoke, representing 24% of the city’s population aged 20 and above. This is lower than the figures for Tel Aviv and Haifa, where the percentage of smokers among the population’s 20+ age group is 32% and 29% respectively. In Jerusalem the ratio of men among the smokers was relatively high (75%) compared to Tel Aviv (55%) and Haifa (58%).

The percentage of smokers in Jerusalem is not relatively high, but Jerusalemites smoke more cigarettes per day. Only 17% smoke fewer than five cigarettes per day, compared to 30% in Tel Aviv and 25% in Haifa. A total of 70% smoke more than 11 cigarettes per day, which is much higher than the figure for Tel Aviv (50%) or for Israel and Haifa (55%).

The data indicate that the starting age for smoking in Israel is quite young. Among today’s smokers aged 20 and above, 64% started smoking before age 18. In Jerusalem the percentage of smokers who started smoking before age 18 was 58%, in Tel Aviv it was 65%, and in Haifa 67%.

Today 39% of smokers in Jerusalem are trying to quit. Jerusalemites who had smoked in the past indicated that their main reason for quitting was a health problem or health concern (70%), family and societal pressure (8%), or an aesthetic problem (6%). Less than 1% indicated that they quit smoking because of the high financial cost.

And what about passive smoking? In 1983 a law was passed to prevent smoking and exposure to smoke in public places, including workplaces. Despite this, approximately 338,000 individuals in Jerusalem, representing 77% of the population aged 20 and above, reported on exposure to smoke in their workplaces. Among these, 45% are exposed to smoke to a large or very large extent. 

Source: Analysis of data from the Social Survey 2010, Central Bureau of Statistics