Citizens joined public officials Thursday around the country for a health walk with the Health Ministry's World Walking Day activities. The country faces the risk of rising child obesity as the Health Ministry strives to promote a more active lifestyle among the public.
Deputy Health Minister Emine Alp Meşe joined the participants from all walks of life in the capital Ankara and announced that they drafted an action plan for the next three years to fight childhood obesity. Meşe pointed out that insufficient physical activity was one of the main causes of higher prevalence of chronic diseases. "A sedentary lifestyle is among the main factors in the rise of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. Studies show a rise in body mass index raised the likelihood of occurrence of many cancer types," she said. Meşe pointed out that a survey on childhood obesity shows every one in four second-graders and every one in three middle school students and one in every five high school students are overweight or obese.
Under the action, Turkey plans to prevent childhood obesity or at least reduce its prevalence. The plan mainly covers the promotion of physical activities and removing obstacles to access to physical activity. Turkey has already increased the number of sports facilities everywhere while schools often hold events to encourage children to move more rather than sitting before the TV or spend hours on cellphones and before computers.
Paced walking is one of the easiest ways for mid-level physical exercise according to Meşe. "You can adapt it to your daily life easily. For instance, you can get off your bus a few stops before your destination and walk the rest of the distance. You can park your car farther than your destination. You can take the stairs instead of elevators. You can take a walk in the nearest park everyday," said Meşe.
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