Take Very Good
Care of YourselvesDeuteronomy 4:15


By Nechama Cohen

The Obesity Epidemic

The Jewish community seems to be in real nutritional danger. This is not danger from those who seek to destroy us. We have become a serious danger to ourselves.


The Jewish calendar is filled with beautiful holidays almost every two months, each which is celebrated with elaborate meals. Yet somehow, we have failed to understand that while we should definitely eat and be joyous, we have a responsibility to eat properly and take care of ourselves.


Taking care of ourselves is a Torah commandment. It is an obligation that is incumbent upon us. Eating jelly donuts during Chanukah or cheesecake during Shavuot is customary, but never at the expense of our health. We need to learn the right balance between celebrating yet not over-indulging.


We have a responsibility to eat properly and take care of ourselves

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently reported that deaths due to poor diet and physical inactivity rose by 33 percent over the past decade and may soon overtake tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death. There has been a great increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes, with the age of onset getting younger all the time. There are more than 350 million cases of diagnosed diabetes world wide with a terrible prediction of more than 700 million within the next few years.


The ADA says that approximately 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and Americans are growing heavier every year. Obesity is the leading controllable risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which makes it no surprise that the rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing as well.


Being overweight may also increase the likelihood of developing other diabetes health-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the incidence of diabetes and diabetes health-related conditions has jumped nearly 50 percent in the past 10 years and is expected to increase another 165 percent by 2050 if it keeps up at the same rate.

Results from the CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program showed that a person at high risk for developing diabetes could delay or prevent its onset by almost 60 percent over a 3-year period by losing initially only 10-15 percent of his or her weight and exercising 30 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week. Furthermore, even modest weight loss for an overweight person with type 2 diabetes can improve his or her blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


About 15 percent of children today are overweight! That's 4 times as many as there were 30 years ago. The numbers are stunning, but the trend can be reversed. The ADA has also reported the findings of a study which found that over half the eighth grade children surveyed in America had one or more health problems – such as overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood glucose abnormalities that put them at high risk for diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease. The Jewish Diabetes Association (JDA) recently reported that in Israel, where there is the largest concentration of Jewish people with available statistics there has been an almost 70% increase of diagnosed diabetes in the past four years bringing the reported cases to over one million people with an estimated 800,000 with pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. This is a frightening example for the Jewish community worldwide.


©Copyright 2017 Jewish Diabetes Association/Nechama Cohen--reprints with permission only--contact us at:nechama@jewishdiabetes.org