Eating Habits of the Turks
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Eating Habits of the Turks and Their Associated Behaviors

Meals Held for Special Purposes

In the cities meals are commonly served for particular purposes. For example business lunches where businessmen make certain decisions or agreements, official dinners held by diplomats and statesmen, and awards banquets.


Nutritional habits have to a certain degree become a problem, and consequently required government attention. For this reason they have become the subject of an improvement plan.

The 4th Development Plan mentions nutritional issues as follows (4th Five-Year Development Plan, S. 462–463 and 469):

“In various areas of Turkey, insufficient or poor nutrition occurs. It has been determined that 17% of the population consumes insufficient calories, 10% has a protein deficiency and 22.5% has an imbalanced diet as concerns protein. Thus there is according to world standards, a moderate nutritional problem.

The ages where nutritional problems are most encountered in Turkey are birth and early childhood, when special attention to nutrition is required. 20% of pre-school age children exhibit inhibited growth and development due to insufficient and imbalanced nutrition from the ages of 0–5 years. 50% of childhood deaths can be attributed to malnutrition. In addition, the lack of special nutritional support for pre- and post-natal women in Turkey is a public health issue.

In a country like Turkey, which is self-sufficient in its food needs, problems in the area of nutrition stem chiefly from insufficient or irregular income, lack of education on how to best utilize income allotted to nutrition, and inefficiency in the delivery and distribution of foodstuffs.

An examination of eating habits in Turkey reveals certain characteristics in nutrient consumption. Consumption is based on plant materials, and wheat accounts for 60% of the daily caloric intake. Although there is no shortage of animals, consumption of certain animal-based foods and especially meat and milk is below normal, because they are not produced in a way that provides for domestic consumption, they are generally not well distributed, and their markets are not well-organized.

The nutritional policy has been formulated as follows:

“Measures will be taken which will encourage production and balanced country-wide distribution of the fundamental nutritional materials necessary for the sufficient and balanced nutrition of the population.

“Health services for mothers and children will be reorganized in a way which will emphasize nutritional programs aimed at school- and pre-school-aged children, remediation of visible malnutrition and education on the subject of nutrition. Families having difficulty feeding children from the ages of 0–6 years of age will receive state assistance.”

As is clearly visible, our society is still struggling with insufficient and imbalanced nutrition. Malnutrition has a negative effect on public health; undernourished or poorly nourished people are less resistant to disease and are less productive.

Most of our people are poorly informed about nutrition. For this reason, widespread and efficient nutrition education should be made a priority in our country.

Such education should be continually be carried out through mass communication, in schools, mother and children’s health centers and health associations, and in homes.

As our society changes quickly, our traditional cuisine is in danger of being lost. We should work to promote it from a touristic standpoint. National and regional Turkish dishes should become the subject of scientific research. Only with research will the nutritive and healthful qualities of our foods become better known.


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