The first meeting of the National Nutrition Council, consisting of 9 ministries, 7 non-governmental organizations, YOK (Higher Education Board) and RTUK representatives, took place at the building of the Ministry of Health.
“The most important problem in front of health systems is the contagious diseases. Microbiological factors, leading to significant outbreaks, loss of life, loss of health and workforce loss are the most important problems that health systems should solve. Improvement of hygiene conditions, ongoing fight against the diseases with vaccines and the widespread use of antibiotics have facilitated the prevention and treatment of especially bacterial diseases” said Minister Dr. Koca in his speech at the opening of the National Nutrition Council meeting.
The most critical problem of the developed countries is the non-communicable disease, which also bring about excessive burden on the health systems.
Diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart diseases and cancer are named as chronic diseases and they are closely related with diet and nutrition. Obesity causes many diseases, and it is becoming a bigger problem in Turkey as in the developed and developing countries. Out of three adults, one is obese and the other one is overweight.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Turkey implements “Healthy Diet and Mobile Life Program”, and within this framework several measures have been adopted including prohibition of the sale of unhealthy foods at school canteens, making schools nutrition-friendly, awarding “school food” logo to the schools and prohibition of such advertorials in-between the children programs.
Turkey also has adopted some measures to reduce the ratio of salt in the packaged foods, and reduce salt and sugar in the foods sold at the restaurants and bakeries.
Furthermore family physicians perform risk scanning against the chronic diseases, and provide support and counseling services at the Healthy Life Centers.
The Ministry of Health is currently working on the Nutrition Map of Turkey, which lasted 6 months to find out nutrition habits of the Turkish citizens over 15.
Within the scope of the research, a 24-hour survey was conducted on how they were fed. This survey was repeated by telephone 15 days later. Physicians, nurses and dietitians carried out the research. We are analyzing what nutrients are consumed, how often they are consumed, and how much protein, carbohydrates are taken. The result of the analysis will give us the reasons for both the nutritional deficiencies and the overweight. We will determine our road map according to the findings such as folic acid, iron, vitamin D deficiencies and anemia. We will share the results of this research with the public and create a database and suggest “nutrient enrichment” to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Health Minister emphasized the role of the National Nutrition Council about these developments and said the followings:
“When it comes to healthy eating, everybody has an opinion unfortunately. In television channels, newspapers, magazines, social media environments, people calling themselves expert but not directly interested in the subject, are able to make explanations of competence, suggest miraculous diets, popularize a food, while another food can be considered almost poisonous.
The National Nutrition Council will eliminate the disinformation and promote healthy nutrition culture throughout the country.
The Council can establish scientific commissions on issues related to healthy eating, food and beverages, and the council of science will take decisions in accordance with the report.
Misleading statements and deceptive advertisements and news will also be discussed by the Council to develop relevant policies and, if necessary, representatives of the private sector will be invited to the National Nutrition Council.”