Turkey to be caught in the chronic disease storm in 20 years, says geneticist
Mesude Erşan - ISTANBULTurkey will be caught in a “chronic disease storm” over the next 20 years, Professor Gökhan Hotamışlıgil, a world renowned geneticist, has warned.
Professor Hotamışlıgil said one third of the Turkish population is overweight, one third is clinically overweight and three percent is morbidly obese, adding problems to the country’s future.
“I call it the ‘3-3-3 problem.’ There is no question that Turkey will not be freed from a chronic disease storm relating to obesity. It will definitely create a huge problem in the next 15 or 20 years. Problems with cardiac diseases, diabetes and respiratory systems will rise,” said Hotamışlıgil, speaking to daily Hürriyet following the 3rd Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Summit held in Istanbul on May 7.
Professor Hotamışlıgil said the problem is specifically caused by the rural exodus in recent years as well as a change in eating habits. He also said the older the population becomes, the higher the rise of chronic disease rates, bringing trouble to the country’s healthcare system.
However, Professor Hotamışlıgil said they are now working on a vaccine prevention method for diabetes and cardiac diseases.
“The vaccine we are currently working on is another protein that will block a protein related to obesity. The program is going very well. We have a nominee molecule. The first study will be done in 2016 with a group of people. Our dream is to develop a vaccine that will reduce the risk for both diabetes and cardiac disease simultaneously,” said Hotamışlıgil.
Meanwhile, Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said his ministry has several plans to prevent the increase of overweight-related diseases in Turkey, speaking at the 3rd Nutrition and Healthy Life Summit in Istanbul on May 7.
The minister said they aimed to increase the normal weight population by half in the next five years through several projects, including one to distribute 1 million bicycles over the next four years.
“This year we will distribute 100,000 bicycles...to universities with campuses for the use of young people,” Müezzinoğlu said.