In Turkey, the land of kebabs and Turkish delights, expanding waistlines are the target of a new anti-obesity campaign by the government to help 1 million Turks slim down over the next year.
The numbers are alarming: a little over 1 out of every 3 people is obese, according to recent health ministry figures. Even more when it comes to women!
“The fight against obesity starts now,” say publicity spots rolled out by the ministry to push back against lifestyle changes doctors believe are bulking up the 73 million population.
“Modern-day life has set constraints that make us eat faster and more without paying attention to the quality of the food we’re ingesting,” said pediatrician Murat Tuncer, a specialist in blood disorders. But on the upside, he added, as a Mediterranean country. Turkey has all the vegetables, fruit and fish required for a healthy diet.
The ministry sounded the alarm on the problem last month.
“35% of the population is obese,” said Health Minister Recep Akdag, who himself recently set an example by losing 10 kilograms and recommends a walking regime of 10,000 steps a day.
Over the summer, family doctors will distribute pedometers, so people can record their walking distance, and monitor the progress of their overweight patients.
And in a change introduced July 1, bread is now sold with less salt and more wholewheat flour, making it richer in fibre, a key change for a country where bread is a mainstay of the national diet, To prevent childhood obesity, Turkish television will only air adverts for healthy food and a balanced diet. The campaign comes at a time when obesity, recognized since 1997 as a disease by the World Health Organization, is increasingly a global issue.