Half of Adolescents in Israel Believe They Are Fat


stomachA new study has found that about half of adolescents in Israel believe they are overweight and want to lose weight. Some of them, experts warn, are at an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. The study was conducted by Bracha Katz-Sheiban of the Department of Criminology at the Western Galilee College, who specializes in suicidal behaviors. Her goal was to find out whether the Israeli adolescent’s definition of his or her bodyweight had an influence on the risk of developing an eating disorder.

The study was conducted among 323 male and female teenagers in 7th to 12th grades, whose average age is 14.5years.The research shows that 41% of adolescents in Israel are unhappy with their bodyweight, 47% define themselves as fat, and 30% would like to lose more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds).

An examination of views towards eating and eating behaviors found that 6% of adolescents were at a high risk of developing anorexia nervosa.

“Modern society associates various positive traits with an attractive and slim external appearance,” explains Katz-Sheiban. “This serves as a basis for the development of eating disorders, particularly among girls.

“Skinniness symbolizes self control, encouragement and restraining of cultural passions, while being fat symbolizes laziness and surrendering to different pleasures and lusts. Adolescents who define themselves as fat will be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than adolescents who define themselves as thin.”

In light of the study’s findings, the researchers recommend including in schools’ study plan a reference to the cultural dimension, which glorifies the ritual of thinness, both through developing critical thinking as to messages from the media, or by initiating changes in the messages and cultural models presented to youths in general and to teenage girls in particular.

Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric diagnosis of an eating disorder characterizing body image problems. Studies show that the influence of different social and cultural risk factors in the industrialized society encourage people, particularly women, to be slim, significantly contributing to a rise in the frequency of this serious emotional disorder.

{Ynet/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. From growing up in a place run by frei people, who have the kavono to frei everybody else out.

    Teaching kids Toras Emes and appreciating their Yiddishkeit instead of what they learn in their schools would be a good start.