Turkish Healthy Nutrition and Active Life Programme 2010–2014 and related initiatives (2016)



Dietary factors and physical inactivity undermine health and well-being in every Member State in the WHO European Region. Turkey is no exception and has been at the forefront of the fight against obesity and other diet- and physical activity-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Region. In 2010, Turkey introduced the Healthy nutrition and active life programme in order to increase the knowledge of the population and the adoption of healthy habits to decrease the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes. This report presents the findings of a qualitative evaluation by a team of international and national experts. It demonstrates notable achievements, opportunities for building on the achievements and suggestions for a programme and action plan for 2017–2021.

The team found that Turkey is to be commended for its national plan and the range of activities under way to prevent and control obesity and overweight. Its strengths include:

  • investment in action to improve physical activity;
  • emphasis on leading by example in Government agencies;
  • work in primary care, such as obesity counselling in family practices and community health centres;
  • development of a healthy living centres model; and
  • some structural environmental changes, such as increasing the number of cycling paths.

Some areas for improvement include:

  • moving from projects to sustained, coordinated programmes and policies;
  • widening the scope of policies;
  • improving use of data and validated information for evaluation;
  • moving beyond awareness-raising and health education; and
  • strengthening enforcement, auditing and implementation.

The evaluation team heard of many plans to continue and extend the good work in the coming years, both by health actors and relevant Government stakeholders. A lot remains to be done in Turkey – as in every other country in the WHO European Region – to tackle obesity, diet and physical activity, but, with commitment and vision, much progress could be achieved.