One in every three Turks clinically obese: Report

One in every three Turks clinically obese: Report

One in every three Turks clinically obese: Report

Nearly a third of the Turkish population, or 32.1 percent, comprises obese people, whereas 66.8 percent of the population is either overweight or obese, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released during the 29th European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

With the total figure, Turkey leads 53 countries in the WHO European Region, followed by Malta (66.4 percent), Israel (64.3 percent), the United Kingdom (63.7 percent), Andorra (63.7 percent), Greece (62.3 percent), Czechia (62.3 percent), Bulgaria (61.7 percent) and Spain (61.6 percent).

The WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022 showed that the average rates of obesity and obesity plus overweight were 23.3 percent and 58.7 percent, respectively.

The 10 countries with the smallest obese populations are found to be Tajikistan (45.3 percent), Uzbekistan (48.2 percent), Kyrgyzstan (48.3 percent), Moldova (51.8 percent), Turkmenistan (51.8 percent), Bosnia and Herzegovina (53.3 percent), Azerbaijan (53.6 percent), Kazakhstan (53.6 percent), Georgia (54.2 percent) and Austria (54.3 percent).

The obesity rate among Turkish men is estimated at 24.4 percent, whereas among Turkish women at 39.2 percent, the report showed.

The age-standardized prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-aged children (5-9 years) in Turkey was 32.7 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively.

Among Turkish adolescents (10–19 years), the rates of overweight and obesity were 27.9 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.

Obesity ongoing ‘epidemic’

Overweight and obesity are among the leading causes of death and disability in the European region, with recent estimates suggesting they cause more than 1.2 million deaths annually, corresponding to more than 13 percent of total mortality in the region, the WHO said in a press release.

Obesity increases the risk for many non-communicable diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases.

Overweight people and those living with obesity have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been unfavorable shifts in food consumption and physical activity patterns during the pandemic that will have effects on population health in the years ahead.

“Obesity knows no borders. In Europe and Central Asia, no single country is going to meet the WHO Global NCD target of halting the rise of obesity,” said Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “The countries in our Region are incredibly diverse, but everyone is challenged to some degree. By creating environments that are more enabling, promoting investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can change the trajectory of obesity in the Region.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced the true impact of the obesity epidemic in our region,” he added.

To address the growing epidemic, the report recommends a suite of interventions and policy options that member states can consider to prevent and tackle obesity in the region, with an emphasis on building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic. It outlines how policy interventions that target environmental and commercial determinants of poor diet at the entire population level are likely to be most effective at reversing the obesity epidemic, addressing dietary inequalities and achieving environmentally sustainable food systems.

The WHO report highlights a few specific policies, including the implementation of fiscal interventions, such as taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages or subsidies for healthy foods.