JOURNAL ARTICLE

Overweight and obesity prevalence in Israel: findings of the first national health and nutrition survey (MABAT)

Lital Keinan-Boker, Nitzan Noyman, Ayelet Chinich, Manfred S Green, Dorit Nitzan-Kaluski
Israel Medical Association Journal: IMAJ 2005, 7 (4): 219-23
15847200

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of obesity has increased considerably in many countries in recent decades.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the Israeli population, based on findings of the first national health and nutrition survey (MABAT).

METHODS: This cross-sectional survey was carried out during 1999-2000. MABAT is based on a representative sample (n = 3,246) of the general Israeli population aged 25-64 years. The current study population comprised those with complete data on measured weight and height (n = 2,781). Participants were interviewed in person and had their weight and height measured by the interviewer.

RESULTS: Over 50% of the study participants were women (n = 1,410); 76% were Jews and 24% Arabs. Most participants had an education of at least 12 years (72%). Body mass index > or = 30.0 was more prevalent in women compared to men (P < 0.001) in both population groups (Jews and Arabs). Obesity rates increased with age and reached 22.4% for men and 40.4% for women aged 55-64 years. Lower education was associated with higher obesity rates, with lowest rates observed for Jewish women with an academic education (13.6%) and highest rates observed for Arab women with a basic education (57.3%). Multiple logistic regression analyses showed age to be a significant risk factor in men. Age, education and origin (Arab, and the former Soviet Union for Jews) were significant risk factors for obesity in women.

CONCLUSIONS: Obesity rates in Israel are high and comparable to those in the United States. Of special concern is the subgroup of older Arab women (55-64 years), whose obesity rates reached 70%.

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