The Diabetes Epidemic In Chareidi Society

Photo: Dovid Zar

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Sunday was World Diabetes Day and on Monday, Kol Chai published a report about the diabetes epidemic in the Chareidi sector in Israel, with the diabetes rate 36% higher in the Chareidi sector than in the general population.

The largest disparity is among men aged 35-45, with 1 out of 42 Chareidi men in that age group suffering from diabetes versus 1 out of 75 men in the general population.

These statistics are from the pre-coronavirus era, which means that the numbers are likely even higher today since studies have found that one of the post-COVID phenomena is an increase in diabetes.

The report noted that the Bennett government recently allocated NIS 650 million to the Arab sector to reduce health disparities in healthcare, including diabetes, but there is no budget for an information campaign regarding diabetes in the Chareidi sector. An existing program for the general population called “Possible Healthy’ completely disregards the Chareidi sector.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. Because some of us Charedim don’t know the true risks and health implications, due to culturally cutting ourselves off from mainstream health issues and lack of education.

    Couple that with all white flour mezoines diet, full fat meat and chicken, and lifestyle choice of not exercising…..

    It’s surprising we live as long as we do.

  2. Food either nourishes or depletes bodily nutritional reserves. Nutrition in grown food is found on the surface, where sunlight and the resulting photosynthesis catalyze mineral compounds to form that nourishes life. When these foods are processed and refined – with the surfaces polished away, they become dead food that actually damages the body’s many delicate systems through depletion. Rambam says people should rarely partake of polished grains (soless), but this has become a rare custom in post-industrial society, where modern ailments such as diabetes have become unfortunately common.

  3. I hate to say it but too many men I know don’t care about their health and weight. They don’t exercise, they eat what they want. They are constantly binging on Shabbos and holidays and weddings and kiddishes and dinners out and takeout and on and on. There are a few who do care and try but they have a hard time improving their diet due to all of the above. Most either struggle and lose some weight and end up regaining it, or try and give up because it is too difficult. They don’t want to eat salad and brown rice they want burgers and fries.
    It makes me sad when I see the Shuls always offering cakes and soda and greasy food. I know if they put fruit and veggies the men would eat it instead! Many enjoy that as well and would be happier to eat it. I think it is a communal problem and people need to realize that it’s their FOOD causing disease and diabetes. People don’t want to give up their enjoyment but it’s very miserable to be sick.


  5. The sad thing is that Type 2 diabetes is 100% reversible by diet. The typical heimish meal causes diabetes. Let’s see, start with the Shalom Bayis Kugel erev Shabbos. Kiddush over sweet wine, Chalah, Potato Kugel, Noodle Kugel, Chicken with Sweet sauce, desserts and your blood sugar skyrockets.
    Shabbos morning: multiple kiddushes, shnaps, more kugel, cholent, and on and on.
    It’s an easy fix.
    The sad thing is that no one wants to change their behaviors. The alternative is amputations and death.

  6. Diabetes is primarily a weight related issue and not dependent on the food you eat. Gain weight, chance of diabetes increases. Kiddush, large shabbos and Yom Tov meals, and so on don’t add up to a good end.

  7. rebtsvi is correct. Type 2 Diabetes IS reversible by diet.

    Type 1 Diabetes is where the body makes little or no insulin, due to some body malfunction, so that insulin injections are necessary. Otherwise, C”V the person dies, because the body cannot metabolize food without insulin.

    However, Type 2 Diabetes is caused by eating the wrong diet, which drives up blood sugar and body insulin and causes various diseases like heart disease, neuropathy, kidney disease, eye damage, etc. and C”V sometimes necessitates amputations, due to diseased body tissue. The problem is that doctors treat Type 2 Diabetes like Type 1 Diabetes and tell the patients to inject insulin, which is exactly the WRONG treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. There’s already too much insulin in the body, caused by eating the wrong diet. The insulin injections make the patients gain weight, and it makes their Diabetes worse. Type 2 Diabetes is reversible by diet. There are books by competent physicians on this subject. I have a relative who reversed Type 2 Diabetes by changing the diet.

  8. Seems logical, for several reasons, all related to the fact that we are well fed and under exercised (arguably Type 2 diabetes isn’t really an illness, and is more of a normal side effect of being overweight). The word “epidemic” is incorrect, since only a contagious disease is an “epidemic” (though no one expects YWN editors to have studied English enough to realize this – that may be a feature rather than a bug).

    1. If you look at pictures of frum Jews from 75-80 years ago, you will notice they were very thin (especially in Europe). Indeed, if you look at most pictures of Yidden from the past, you will notice that very few were overweight, and many were emaciated. While this meant that Type 2 diabetes was not a problem, it led to a cultural predilection towards worrying more about being underfed than overfed. Since Type 2 diabetes is easy to treat (eat less, exercise more), it is understandable that this isn’t perceived as a crisis (note that while one can always eat less, in the past we rarely had the option to eat more).

    2. Most frum Yidden are disinclined to exercise for the sake of exercise. When do something for its own sake it probably has to do with Torah and Mitsvos.

    3. The increase in Type 2 diabetes is global, probably reflecting that traditional cuisines and customs do not yet reflect that most people are no longer living on the edge of starvation. The problem will probably go away in a few centuries as people get used to the idea that the world finally no longer as a problem with famine. We should say Baruch ha-Shem that we live in period when food is plentiful, and exercise is something done for “fun” rather than to survive. If you wandered around Europe 75 years ago and told Yidden that in the near future no one will be dying of starvation, and having too much food will be considered a public health problem, they would have thought you were predicting a miracle.