I congratulate The Jewish Week on your article, “Childhood Obesity Hits Israel” (Healthcare, May 7).
The Israel Heart Fund promotes programs to prevent heart disease. In 1999 we initiated a partnership with The Childhood Obesity center at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Israel.
The program, headed by pediatricians Alon Eliakim and Dan Nemet, reported in 2002 in the European Journal of Pediatrics, favorable short-term results in treating obesity in hundreds of Israeli children and adolescents.
In 2005, Pediatrics, the leading journal in the field, published Eliakim and Nemet’s impressive success in maintaining those results over the long term.
In 2005, we initiated a small pilot program in kindergartens in an Israeli community. Our findings showed that 22 percent of children at this age level were obese. At the end of the school year, our kindergarten-based program had reduced obesity in these same kindergartens to 8 percent.
With the encouragement of the Israeli Ministry of Education the kindergarten program has been implemented in hundreds of kindergartens.
Our studies show exceptional success in kindergartens across Israel, including in disadvantaged communities. We are currently proposing long-term follow up of these children to see if the lifestyle training given in kindergarten has long-term success.
These extraordinary efforts were carried out with the support of the Carlos Lindenfeld Fund of the San Diego Jewish Communal Fund and The Rosalinde and Albert Gilbert Foundation and the Israel Heart Fund.
President, Israel Heart Fund