According to the World Health Organization, inadequate and unbalanced nutrition is one of the main reasons for diseases and shortened life expectancy in infants and children. Cases of non-communicable diseases have been rising significantly due to the growing health problems of excess weight and obesity. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and various types of cancers are on the rise, particularly among young adults.
Nutrition problems in adolescence begin during childhood and continue into adulthood. Therefore, it is crucial to emphasize the nutrition of infants and children by raising the awareness of their parents - particularly their mothers - and by increasing incentives at schools.
In addition to energy and macronutrients, some of the vitamins and minerals in our diets are essential for healthy growth and development as well as healthy functioning of the immune system. An estimated two billion people worldwide are affected by iodine deficiency and more than one third of preschool children worldwide are affected by Vitamin A deficiency. The inadequate and unbalanced nutrition of mothers causes sup-optimal fetal development and a much higher risk of complications during pregnancy.
Obesity in urban areas and inadequate nutrition in rural areas are the main diet-related health problems in Turkey. According to 2010 data from the Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey, nutrition-based problems are observed in almost half of infants between the ages of 0 and 5 and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18. This situation was also addressed in the Malnutrition Conference organized by the World Health Organization during November 19-21, 2014. In short, malnutrition is a condition that can be caused by either undernutrition or overnutrition.
While the world is trying to decrease the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and associated risks, the food industry must pay more attention to food innovation and reformulation. Reformulating food products is an ongoing research and development effort that supports vitamin and mineral intake, helps the digestive system, and boosts the immune system.
Medicine is also making daily strides in the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Research for the treatment of these diseases has accelerated thanks to innovations and improvements in surgery (gastric surgery for morbid obesity), hormone studies (leptin), and new generation drugs (endocrine).
The Sabri Ülker Food Research Foundation designed the Sabri Ülker Science Award in light of these developments in nutrition, health, and medicine. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, support training programs and scientific initiatives, and assist the development of innovations that benefit society.