National health survey: less than a third of Israelis do physical activity

The National Center for Disease Control at the Ministry of Health publishes this week the fourth national health survey, conducted between 2018-2020. According to the data, about two-thirds of the interviewees did not comply with the Ministry of Health’s recommendations for physical activity, while 29.8% of the Jews and 26.3% of the Arabs complied with the recommendations.

The Ministry of Health’s recommendations for physical activity are to engage in this activity at medium intensity for at least 150 cumulative minutes per week or 75 minutes per week at high intensity. In addition, you should perform activities to strengthen the body muscles at least twice a week. It is estimated that lack of physical activity is the main cause of about 23% of breast and colon cancer cases, about 27% of diabetes cases and about 30% of coronary heart disease cases. In addition, the rate of obesity and excess weight in Israel is high compared to the rest of the world.

According to the survey, 56% of the general population are overweight. This rate is higher among Arabs (61.3%) compared to Jews (54.8%). Arab men presented the highest rate (65.9%) of obesity and overweight. The survey also shows that the rate of performing tests to detect colon cancer in the age group eligible for testing (50-74) in the year preceding the survey is only 40%. This rate was higher among Arabs (50.1%) compared to Jews (38%).

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Israel. The origin of most tumors is a benign polyp that turns malignant. Early detection of the disease significantly improves the chances of recovery and survival, therefore the tests for early detection of cancer are very important. According to data from the Ministry of Health, approximately 27,000 people are diagnosed with invasive cancer in Israel every year. About 12,000 people die every year from cancer and since 1999 – cancer is the number one cause of death in the population.

According to the survey, one in five Israelis smokes. The rate of smoking among Arabs was higher (24.4%) compared to Jews (19.1%). The highest rate of smoking is among Arab men (38.2%), 1.7 times compared to Jewish men (22.6%). The survey also examined health care consumption habits in Israel. The Corona epidemic illustrated the importance and benefits of telemedicine services, which may bring about a change for the better in the quality and accessibility of health services provided to the insured while increasing efficiency and lowering costs for the health care system. According to the survey data, the use of telemedicine services was higher among Jews compared to Arabs, with 69.1% of the Jewish interviewees and 44.5% of the Arab interviewees using the Internet to make an appointment with a doctor or for an examination.

The director of the National Center for Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, Prof. Little Keenan-Boker: “The survey is used to identify trends, locate special health conditions and evaluate the success of intervention and health promotion programs. It presents an estimate of the prevalence of diseases and chronic conditions according to self-report, and helps in evaluating the use of health services health and examining healthy behavior patterns”.

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