Regulatory measures to improve nutrition policy towards a better food environment for prevention of obesity and associated morbidity in Israel

Ronit Endevelt, Itamar Grotto, Rivka Sheffer, Rebecca Goldsmith, Maya Golan, Joseph Mendlovic, Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, World Health Organization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Obesity and related chronic diseases, including diabetes,
cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, are the leading causes of mortality
and morbidity in Israel with dramatic increases in prevalence in recent years.
In the last 50 years, the food supply and eating habits have moved from basic,
home-cooked, wholesome foods towards ultra-processed and processed
foods, with high levels of salt, sugar and fats. This trend is contributing to
obesity and its associated morbidity and mortality.
Objective: To counter the obesity challenge in Israel, the Ministry of Health has
set up a Regulatory Committee to propose and enact nutrition policy legislation,
in order to achieve a better food environment.
Methods: The Committee met with local and international nutrition and
epidemiology experts, conducted several focus groups with selected population
groups, and invited the public, via a dedicated website, to express their views as
to steps the Ministry should take.
Results: Nine key areas of action were identified, and the following legislative
steps initiated:
• front-of-pack labelling, indicating foods high in sodium/sugar/saturated fats
(negative), or category-specific best choices (positive);
• economic measures, price controls;
• restrictions on marketing and advertising of harmful foods to children;
• formal nutrition education in all school years;
• nutrition promotion in all health settings;
• nutrition education for the public;
• reformulation of processed foods;
• more nutritious foods offered at workplaces, schools, etc.; and
• changes in food store layouts.
Conclusions: Development of a comprehensive, far-reaching nutrition policy
designed to improve the nation’s nutrition and health status is central to the
Ministry of Health’s mission statements and action plans. The Ministry is
committed to implementing changes where needed, to carry out research and
evaluation to assess the impact of the innovative programs, and to work in
conjunction with other ministries, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and
other relevant bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-574
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Panorama
Issue number04
StatePublished - 2017


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