Halit Tanju Besler

Speech Title: The nutritional status of the Turkish population. Overview of the key issues and examples of initiatives to address them

Istanbul Kent University, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics Department

Dr Halit Tanju Besler completed his undergraduate study (BSc) in the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at Hacettepe University in 1986 and he graduated (MSc) from Nutrition and Dietetics Programme in Health Sciences Institute at Hacettepe University in 1988. He commenced at Department of Human Nutrition of Medical Faculty of Southampton University in 1995. His areas of expertise are including “nutrition and dietetics” and “nutrition and nutritional biochemistry”. He has published more than 60 papers in reputed journals. He has board memberships and consultancies in many public and non-public institutions, in particular Ministry of Health and Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, in the matters of nutrition, food and health care areas. He has many national and international publications and he is one of the coordinators of Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey 2010 and National Obesity Action Plan.


The goal of the National Food and Nutrition Strategy for Turkey (developed in 2003) is to protect and promote health through healthy nutrition, reduce the burden of diseases, while contributing to socioeconomic development and a sustainable food security. General objectives of the National Food and Nutrition Strategy on food and nutrition are to conduct a National Food and Nutrition Survey, prepare food-based dietary guidelines, provide nutrition education and raise public awareness on nutrition, improve healthy food habits to assure adequate and balanced nutrition, develop school health programmes including food aid and school milk programmes, prevent nutritional problems of risk groups, prevent diet-related chronic diseases,supplementation of diet with vitamins and minerals, fortification of foods, management of nutrition in emergency situations establishment of a National Food and Nutrition Council. A number of nutrients of public health importance for populations have been identified, i.e.nutrients for which there is evidence of dietary imbalance that might influence the development of these conditions. These include nutrients that might be consumed in excess, e.g. energy, total fat, saturated and trans fatty acids, sugars and salt, as well as those for which intake might be inadequate, e.g. unsaturated fatty acids, dietary fibre, water, as well as some vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin D, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, iodine). In Turkey, National Food Intake (consumption) Surveys that had been carried out in 1974 and 1984 had already indicated energy and macronutrient intakes in the population. Afterwards, some local surveys had been carried out, but these were not representative of the Turkish population. Since 1980s, the economic and social development in Turkey, as well as dietary pattern, has undergone various changes. In the period 1985–2010, no further representative surveys of the population on food intake was determined. A large scale Nutrition and Health Survey of Turkey was conducted in 2010 and 2017. The main objective of this presentation is to present and discuss the prevalence of nutrition-related diseases, especially obesity, energy and nutrient intakes in Turkey comparatively.