Non-communicable diseases are the biggest problem that threatens public life in Turkiye and all over the world. There are common, preventable risk factors under non-communicable diseases. These factors are tobacco addiction, physical inactivity, unhealthy nutrition and harmful alcohol use. Among the effects of these behavioral risk factors and other metabolic/physiological causes on the epidemic of global non-communicable diseases are overweight and obesity. Controlling and preventing obesity is a priority in Turkiye Ministry of Health and other related public institutions. As a matter of fact, the Chronic Diseases Action Plan was approved by the World Health Organization and the ‘WHO European Ministerial Conference on Struggling Obesity’ was held and ‘European Struggling Obesity Document’ was signed on 15-16 November 2006 in Istanbul. On 4-5 July 2013, the Vienna Declaration was signed to reach the conclusion that member states could be dealt with the growing influence of non-communicable chronic diseases on 21st century development, only by the widespread and active participation of all relevant sectors and by the efforts of the government and society as a whole and attaching importance to health in all politics.
Also in Turkiye, chronic diseases are on the first rank in regard to cause of death and disease burden. Researches show that overweight and obesity prevalence is increasing in our country as well as in the world and that obesity is beginning to affect our children and our young people in particular. The obesity prevalence in the 0-5 age group is 8,5% and the overweight prevalence is 17,9%. The obesity prevalence in all adults aged 19 and over in Turkiye is 30,3% and the light fatness prevalence is 34,6%. The main objective of national health policies is to achieve a healthy society consisted of healthy individuals. In this context, Turkiye Ministry of Health initiated ‘Turkiye Healthy Nutrition and Active Life Program’ in 2010.
Within the context of controlling and preventing obesity process, increasing the physical activity levels of citizens is an important success parameter. Researches show that on average, 3,2 million people lose their lives due to physical inactivity every year. And this means that physical inactivity kills almost as much as traffic accidents every year. While people who exercise regularly in our country constitute only 3,5% of the total population, 70% of the population is physically inactive.
In this situation, it will be possible to succeed in the fight against obesity in the context of chronic non-communicable diseases only if the stakeholders related to this subject work coordinated, determined and all together. In this struggle, with the awareness of responsibility for civil society organizations within the scope of national health policies, Promoting Healthy Life and Health Policy Association, Turkiye Ministry of Health and Yıldırım Bayezit University started the Promoting Active Life Project with the protocol signed on 14 November 2013. Promoting Active Life Project aims to reduce physical inactivity through raising awareness of two important target groups (family physicians and teachers) who are in touch with public in Turkiye.
One of the most effective ways to promote physical activity in Turkiye is the family physicians system. Each of the 77 million citizens is registered with a family physician. Reducing the prevalence of obesity within the scope of preventive medicine is within the responsibility of family physicians. For this reason, Promoting Active Life Project have importance on increasing awareness of family physicians’ positions regarding physical activity and its place in the prevention of disease and their direct and effective touches to society.
In Turkiye, 12 years of elementary and secondary education prior to university is mandatory for every citizen. For this reason, the other important group who is in effective contact with the whole society especially at a young age is teachers. Increasing awareness of all teachers at the level of Turkiye Ministry of National Education and especially physical education teachers on physical activity and its importance will be an important step in raising the awareness of our children and families about obesity and non-communicable diseases in the short term and the society’s becoming more physically active in the middle and long term.
Promoting Active Life Project has been prepared in parallel with ‘Turkiye Healthy Nutrition and Active Life Program’ which was started in 2010 by Turkiye Ministry of Health and updated in 2013 for the years 2014-2017 and has been conducted since.
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