ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
One third of Turks suffer from obesity, a rate that puts Turkey in the top 10 in the world for the health condition, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdağ said Jan. 29
“Unfortunately, our situation is very bad. One in three people in Turkey are obese; one is overweight and one is normal. How many countries do you think there are in such a situation? There are barely 10 countries. We are among those 10 countries. We are among the bad 10. In other words, we are an inactive society,” said Akdağ in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Akdağ said the most concerning issues for Turkey’s health future were inactivity, extra weight and smoking, adding that alcohol consumption could be added to these problems as well.
Less than 20 percent of Turks can be considered active, he said, noting that the level was more than 80 percent in Finland.
Akdağ said the easiest way to lose weight was “to eat less,” while noting that “life becomes complicated” when there are too many alternatives to the problem.
“Now I can eat less than what I am eating and can maintain my life much more easily. The whole issue is about having control over your will; the whole issue is about zipping up your mouth. Let’s eat less and move more,” said Akdağ.
In efforts to fight against extra weight and obesity, Akdağ said measures could also be taken regarding food packages.
“It is not enough to have the calorie chart which is written with magnified letters. We could put, for example, colored warnings on food packages with red signaling high calories, urging attention,” said Akdağ, while suggesting that his office should cooperate with other ministries, advertisement companies, the media sector and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to fight against obesity.
The minister also said it was easier to find societal support for the fight against smoking than it is on eating habits.
He said his office was collaborating with the Education Ministry to ensure school cafeterias offered healthier food but added that more efforts should be made by both institutions to teach children from a young age how to eat healthily and avoid high-calorie foods.
Thanks to cooperation with the Agriculture Ministry, Akdağ also said they were decreasing the salt rate in foods.