Serkan Alan / DUVAR
Two-thirds of the Turkish population is obese or overweight, and the financial depression that the country has been experiencing is part of the cause, Turkey Dietitians' Association (TDD) Chair Ayhan Dağ said.
Obesity among Turks aged 15 and up was at 15.2 percent in 2008, a number that rose by more than 30 percent to 21.1 percent in 2019, and Dağ said that the portion of the population who's overweight increased even more during the pandemic.
The financial struggles brought on by the pandemic have forced Turks into malnourishment, restricted physical activity, and hindered access to healthy foods for many, Dağ added.
"Physical activity is not a common habit in Turkey. In addition, large portion sizes trigger obesity," the expert noted. "You see the price of dairy product, it's a fact that the public doesn't have access to healthy foods."
The public is often forced to consume soups, rice and pasta, and can't afford to include fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, Dağ said, noting the extreme inflation in food prices in Turkey over the COVID-19 pandemic.
"People's financial struggles disable them from accessing a healthy diversity of nutritions, and leads them to consume carbohydrates, which in turn affects their weight," Dağ said.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of food security in Turkey, with common household items rising to unaffordable prices against minimum wages that the government failed to hike proportionally.