COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Who are the sedentary people in Israel? A public health indicator

Orna Baron-Epel, Amalia Haviv, Noga Garty, Dov Tamir, Manfred S Green
Israel Medical Association Journal: IMAJ 2005, 7 (11): 694-9
16308990

BACKGROUND: Increasing physical activity and thereby reducing a sedentary lifestyle can lower the risk of chronic diseases. Raising the population's involvement in physical activity is a major challenge for public health and healthcare services.

OBJECTIVES: To identify subpopulations with a sedentary lifestyle and low levels of adherence to physical activity recommendations.

METHODS: The Israel Center for Disease Control performed two national surveys during 2002-2003, interviewing 7,307 Jewish Israelis and 1,826 Arab Israelis over age 21. Respondents were asked if they engaged in physical activity lasting at least 20 consecutive minutes, and if so how frequently: less than once a week, once or twice a week, nearly every day or every day.

RESULTS: Arab respondents were less physically active than Jewish respondents after adjusting for gender, age, level of religiosity, marital status, education, self-reported health, smoking, body mass index, and type of survey. Multiple logistic regression analysis run separately for Jews and Arabs found a more sedentary lifestyle, in both groups, among women, the less educated, those who were married and those with poor subjective health. Among Jews, younger age, increased religiosity, smoking and high BMI were associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

CONCLUSIONS: The Jewish population is in need of more targeted and specific interventions for lower adhering subpopulations, such as women, the less educated and those with other risk factors. In the Arab population a more thorough understanding of the benefits of physical activity is needed; however, it seems that a general intervention is required to decrease the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle all round.

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