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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cheerio!

Interesting little item in Haaretz about certain cereals that are no longer available for purchase in Israeli supermarkets:
Cheerios, the cereal that has long been a staple of American breakfasts, will no longer be distributed in Israel. It is being replaced by a sugary alternative that, according to the importer, is more suited to the Israeli palate.

Original Cheerios, easily identified by its trademark bright yellow box, does not have enough of a demand here, Anglo File has learned. A new, multi-grain version of the cereal - which has nearly five times as much sugar per serving as the original oat-based product - is now being sold here instead.

...In another blow to American cereal eaters, Kellogg's Rice Krispies will also no longer be available in Israel.
I find it interesting that Israeli palates are so suited to foods with a high sugar content that there is not enough demand for unsweetened cereals to keep them on the shelves. Coupled with the obscenely high-fat and high-sodium snacks that are so popular in Israel, such as Bissli and Bamba, this doesn't speak highly of Israeli snacking and eating habits. With all of the public warnings from medical and health experts that high-sugar and high-fat foods are one of the causes of the mushrooming obesity and diabetes epidemics in America, I wonder whether this preference for sweet foods that seems to exist in Israel translates into a society-wide health risk. I'd love to see some data on the rates of childhood diabetes and obesity in Israeli vs. American youth.

15 Comments:

Blogger Ezzie said...

Ugh... I was amazed at the amount of sugar my cousins ate, and I'm always the one my family tells to cut down on the sugar. OTOH, they drink far less soda there, and far more water, which may cut down in other places; and they have far more spicy foods, which get metabolism going far better (from what I've learned).

4:49 PM  
Blogger MDmom said...

we are mourning the loss of these breakfast greats. the interesting thing is (and i can only speak of my experience and personal observations) that even though there is the availablity of these junky foods, for the most part, my kids and my friends' kids don't eat all that much of it. mine prefer fruits and vegetables, or ww pita with chumus. my kids love blueberries -- a real delicacy here, pomegranates, passionfruit, olives, non-processed cheeses... having a yogurt for a snack or breakfast (the cups are much smaller here)is very common. produce is fresher, commonly available in it's proper season. my kids also want to eat their main meal in the middle of the day, so that the late afternoon sugar low is not so bad, if there at all. or maybe because it's so readily available (read kosher) and accessible, the junk loses it's romance. another point is that there really is not that much variety, once you get familiar with the inventory. it's much of the same thing with different brand names. and even with the growing choices of israeli junk food, you still do not see obesity here in israel like what is seen in the united states. i've observed that israelis eat a much healthier diet overall.

5:15 PM  
Blogger MDmom said...

another thing i just thought of is that israeli children *play outside!* you always see kids outdoors, around the neighborhood. it's safer here for kids to get around on their own -- my kids and their friends are always riding bikes, playing in the playgrounds, walking to each other's houses, playing soccer, basketball -- in short -- they move. that makes a tremendous difference.

5:21 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Thanks, mdmom. Though my kids are always playing outside as well, I don't think that is the norm here in the US.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous zahava said...

While there is a disturbing amount of junk food available here, and all kosher [sigh!], it is true that it isn't eaten in the same quantities as in the States. There really aren't jumbo sized packages and the single-serving bags are really sized for a single serving (as opposed to 1.5 to 2.5 servings per package as in many US snack-packs).

Not only are eating styles are generally different: due to the fact that most families can afford only one car (if even that) kids get a great deal more exercise. Especially on the yishuvim -- where there isn't any real public transportation.

My kids walk to and from school each day, have 2 rigorous out-door recesses each day, and must walk to-and-from their afterschool activities. Not to mention the daily pickup games of basketball, baseball, and soccer....

I get the impression that many (native) Israeli families do not give their kids cereal as a daily part of their meal routine. Most of the Anglo olim give their kids a small breakfast before school, but it is a token meal since they will all have a 10 o'clock meal in school (aruchat esser) followed by lunch early afternoon. Certainly there are those kids who get chocolate spread sandwiches, but my kids tell me that these are not as ubiquitous as they seem. Most kids seem to get fresh lachmaniot (rolls), pitot, or grain crackers accompanied by any (or all) of the following: chummus, cucumber (and other crudite), cheeses, yogurts, borekas.

Also, much to the relief of other sugar-conscious families, Osem has responded to the deluge of phone calls and email complaints that they will seriously consider reinstating the original Cheerios! YAY!

SOOOOO -- if you live in Israel, CONTACT Osem if you want to see that familiar yellow box back on your local shelves!

Either that, or learn to like the Brit version of healthy morning food: Wheatabix....

7:12 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

There was an article in YNet back in August about Israeli eating habits, I blogged about it back then, you can read it here: http://theslipperslope.blogspot.com/2005/08/theyre-eating-their-rugelach_21.html

11:15 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry, the entire link didn't go through. Here it is, in a live hyperlink: Click here

11:16 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Thanks Michael! Very interesting.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

it's funny because my friends and I always have pondered the fact that Israeli's (and Europeans in general) are so skinny. We could never understand it. Everyone that goes to seminary for a year always comes back a little heftier because of all the great heavy food, but Israelis remain skinny. of course you find a few "yotzei min a klals" but we just could never understand it. We would always chalk it up to all the hiking and walking and smoking they do or something along those lines. Your post leaves me even more baffled. I'd really be interested in seeing some of those statistics!

8:52 AM  
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9:07 AM  
Blogger Akiva said...

Orthomom, amazingly Israeli health stat's are better than the U.S., life expectancies are higher, and the diet generally better.

They're having salad and low fat cheese for breakfast and then walking all over the place.

I'm sure certain segments are being infected by the terrible Western couch-potato lifestyle, but it's currently much lower penetration than the U.S. (which is what, 99.9995%)?

10:49 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Lack of exercise is a huge problem. So many parents are afraid to let their children play outside now.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

And another, more current article on Israeis fighting the bulge, just out today.

2:51 PM  
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