War declared against malnutrition in Turkey

The Calories for Life, Run for Health initiative will tackle both undernourishment and obesity, state agency claims

The Calories for Life, Run for Health initiative will tackle both undernourishment and obesity, state agency claims

ANKARA – Turkey stepped up efforts to fight malnutrition on Tuesday with the Calories for Life, Run for Health initiative.

Launched by the state-run Social Security Institution (SGK), the scheme aims to fight both undernourishment and obesity – two of the biggest health problems facing Europe.

SGK Chairwoman Yadigar Gokalp Ilhan said the project would be marked by a race from Ankara to the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa in October to raise awareness.

Underling the particular threat posed by malnutrition to children, she said: "Malnutrition is responsible for more than half of the deaths of children under five years of age."

Associate Professor Haldun Gundogdu, former chairman of the Turkish Society of Clinical Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition, told AA there are equal numbers of obese and undernourished people in the world. Referring to both conditions, he said: "Fifteen percent of the people, who suppose that they are healthy, have malnutrition. In addition, 60 percent of elderly are potential malnutrition patients.

"Forty percent of patients who apply to hospitals due to other problems have malnutrition in the world. Moreover, 80 percent of cancer patients have malnutrition."

Gundogdu called for greater awareness of malnutrition among medical staff and public health screening for children, the elderly and other ‘at risk’ groups.

Jamie Partridge, Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research at Abbott Nutrition in the U.S, emphasized the economic burden to society of diseases linked to malnutrition.

She said: "It brings significant burden to society because we are spending too much money on the effects of malnutrition in the population.”

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