The data, and especially the trends that are emerging from it, should worry us all: harmful nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle are expanding the scope of the obesity epidemic. The rate of those suffering from stress is rising consistently, approximately 8,000 people die each year from smoking and the widespread use of screens, in all sections of the population, is growing at an accelerated rate. All of these, together and separately, have significant health, social and economic consequences. 65% of mortalities in Israel are the consequence of chronic diseases. Most notable are cancer, heart disease, diabetes and strokes.
For the first time in two decades – life expectancy is expected to decrease in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France. If these trends continue, today's children are expected to have a shorter life span than their parents.
But there is also good news: according to the World Health Organization, most chronic disease-related deaths are preventable: 80% of heart diseases, strokes and diabetes and around 40% of cancers are preventable. In addition, worldwide research shows that prevention programs are an efficient tool that can save resources and reduce morbidity.
The Ministry of Health is leading the change through Efsharibari, a national program for instilling life-promoting health habits aimed at the general population; working with decision makers in government institutions, workplaces and local authorities to create a public atmosphere that encourages health.
The strategy includes the five main keys of change:
- Healthy nutrition
- Physical activity
- Avoiding smoking
- Informed use of screens
- Strengthening personal and social resilience in dealing with stress
These changes relate to all aspects of life
In the education system
Developing tools and training for students, teachers and preschool teachers, turning 18,000 preschools and 5,000 schools into “health promoters” and driving students to become ambassadors and change agents for the whole family.
In local authorities
Encouraging infrastructure development in the urban space: walking trails, facilities and workshops and events for residents in the field of nutrition.
In the workplace
Committing the Civil Service Commission and Tax Authority to reduce barriers and make changes in organizational culture: healthy snacks, physical activity and mental well-being as part of work norms.
Regulation and public policy
Includes marking and restricting the marketing of harmful food, smoking ban in the public domain and prevention of advertising and marketing of smoking products, taxation and enforcement powers and policies for the educated use of screens.
“Mental stress, nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary lifestyles in front of screens, and the actions taken to deal with them within the Efsharibari National Program, are led by the Ministry of Health”.
The safest way to treat the disease – is to simply prevent it. This is the challenge for all of us. This is Efsharibari.