Analysis of the economic effects of unhealthy food consumption and obesity on the health and social system and the expected benefit to the economy from implementing Food Marking Regulations – executive summary

The Food Marking Reform is expected to prevent more than 22,000 deaths and a cumulative saving of about NIS 6 billion per decade – about 2,200 people a year and an average of 600 million NIS a year

The essence
The purpose of the document is to present the economic justification for the reform led by the Ministry of Health to mark products – red marking for the foods from which consumption should be reduced and green labeling for recommended products. In this context, the damage to the public health is exposed as a result of excessive consumption of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, and the expected benefit to the economy and society from the reduction in consumption of these components as a result of the implementation of the reform.
The consumption of these foods – rich in salt (sodium), sugar and saturated fat – is a key factor in the rise in morbidity and mortality rates in Israel and around the world, and a heavy economic and operational burden on health systems and other social systems – starting with the education system, passing through the military and continuing in the labor market.
Obesity, poor nutrition and related chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, blood vessels, and cancer, are the leading causes of death and morbidity in Israel.
Israel leads the consumption tables of unhealthy food and consequently the morbidity data. We are now raising a sick generation of overweight and obese children, which cause morbidity and mortality and directly affect the ability of the next generation to integrate into the various social circles, the military and the labor market, and will be an unbearable burden on the health system. There is a need for urgent intervention and the use of tools that we have not used so far to reduce these effects and to save Israel’s economic and social future. In this respect, this is a wake-up call before it is too late to act.
  • Israel is among the leaders in global sugar consumption. Youth in Israel are in a high place in the world with daily consumption of sweetened beverages, 41% in girls and 45% in boys.
  • Approximately 10,000 people die each year as a result of obesity and poor nutrition (about 23% of mortality rates).
  • In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of obesity: about 30% of children in seventh grade, and over 50% of adults are overweight and obese. The rate of obesity and overweight in Arab society is 38% among children and 70% (!) Among women of low socio-economic status.
  • About 10% of the adult population suffers from diabetes. Israel is second only to Mexico in diabetes morbidity rates and leads to amputation rates. Among the weak population, the rate of diabetes morbidity is 25%.
  • The expenditure on health in respect of a medical insurance policyholder with a severe excess weight is 1.7 times that of a medical insurance policyholder with a normal weight.
Although the data is getting worse, it is possible to change the trend line. To this end, the Ministry of Health initiated the Product Marking Reform – red marking for foods from which consumption should be reduced and green marking for recommended.
According to the projected scenario of a linear reduction of 30% in the consumption of harmful components over a decade, the implementation of the reform is expected to prevent more than 22,000 deaths and a cumulative saving of 6 billion NIS – about 2,200 people per year on average.
In the more conservative scenario, a reduction of 20% in consumption is expected to prevent 16,300 deaths, and to save about 4.5 billion NIS over a decade, about 1,630 people per year and about 450 million NIS a year, on average.
In comparison, the annual addition to the health services basket stands after a significant increase of 500 million NIS per year.
Needless to say, these data have a direct impact on productivity and economic growth in the State of Israel.
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