Israel’s top medical official has called on the public to grow taller to prevent heart disease and diabetes in the country.
In an open letter to health professionals, Dr. Nir Barkat said that taller people had higher risks of heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.
The government’s medical chief, Dr.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said in a report on Monday that the average height of Israelis was 10.4 meters, which is about six feet higher than the average for the United States.
The height of Israeli males is now at 8.6 meters, or three feet taller than the US average.
Barkat said a person’s height was a reflection of the physical, social and cultural context in which they lived.
He said height was also a marker of genetic and other health factors.
“Height is not the only factor affecting health,” he wrote.
“It is also related to genetics and lifestyle.”
Barkaat added that “the risk of developing certain diseases and conditions can also be influenced by the height of one’s family, and that these factors should be considered together.”
Israel has the highest number of deaths from heart disease in the world at 2,947, and the highest rate of diabetes at about 20%.
More than a third of Israeli men and women over 50 are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The average height for Israelis is about 5 feet 6 inches (1.8 meters), according to Mordechay.
Israel also has the second-highest rates of hypertension and diabetes among OECD nations.
Barksat said Israel had the world’s lowest mortality rate from all causes, but that its health system was working on improving.