Child Obesity in the G20 Agenda


Obesity, one of the main agenda items in G20 Health Ministerial Meeting in Argentine, has reached threatening limits in global scale according the WHO researches. Around 2 billion adults are overweight and more than 650 million are obese in the entire world. The number of obese child in the world has approached 400 million. Triggering such chronic diseases as cardiovascular surgery, diabetics, hypertension, cancer and COPD, the obesity may cause disability and early death if it appears in childhood.

Marketing pressure on children should be reduced

Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca addressed to the participants in the session of “Malnutrition: Childhood Overweight and Obesity Problem” at G20 Meeting. “We should develop healthy diet habits and make physical activity a natural part of the daily life to protect our children. Above all, we should eliminate commercial factors that would shatter our fight and trigger the obesity. We should not sacrifice the health of our children for the competitions and promotions aiming to have bigger share in the market. As Health Ministers, we should be more proactive and take braver steps in this field. On the other hand, it is a tragic contradiction that while we are tackling obesity, a side effect of over nutrition, rest of the world is fighting with malnutrition due to natural conditions and wars” said Dr. Koca.

Turkey is taking measures to fight obesity

According to Childhood Obesity Research in Turkey conducted in cooperation with WHO in 2016; 9.9% of the second grade primary school students are obese and 14.6% are overweight. The figures are even more critic for the adults: According to 2017 data, 32% of the population over 19 years of age are obese. Annual cost of obesity in Turkey is TRY 20 billion including financial burdens arising from overconsumption, disability and associated diseases.

In line with the national strategic plan of Turkey, “Healthy Diet and Active Life Program” was put into practice as of 2010. Within this framework, obese patients are monitored by family physicians and counseling services are provided. Pilot “obesity centers” were also opened this year in five provinces.

Sale of candy, chocolate, fizzy drinks and energy drinks was prohibited at the school canteens based on the “Nutrition Friendly School Program”, and specific criteria were laid down for some sweets and salty foods. Commercials on junk food inserted in-between the child programs on TV were prohibited. Course hours allocated to physical education were increased. Height and weight of the secondary school and high school students are measured twice a year and inserted in the database of Ministry of National Education.

Within the framework of “Reducing Overconsumption of Salt” program, salt amount in the bread, cheese, olive, tomato paste and chili powder was reduced. Trans fat elimination and colored front face labelling will be completed this year.  In addition, new taxes will be imposed to reduce consumption of foods and drinks with high amount of sugar.

Updated: 05/10/2018