A quarter of Vietnamese children stunted by poor diets

By Bui Hong Nhung, Ha An   July 25, 2016 | 09:03 pm PT
The World Health Organization has listed Vietnam in the 20 countries with the highest number of stunted children.

Data from the National Institute of Nutrition revealed that Vietnam hasn’t seen much improvement in the battle against malnutrition.

The rate of stunted children under five years old decreased slightly by 0.3 percent on-year to 24.6 percent in 2015. Similarly, the number of children who can’t meet the weight indexes for their age also fell by a mere 0.4 percent on year to 14.1 percent.

Doctor Nguyen Van Tien from the National Institute of Nutrition said that the statistics also varied from region to region. The Central Highlands had the highest numbers with 34 percent not hitting height requirements and 22 percent falling short of expected weights. Southern mountainous provinces recorded marginally lower figures with 30 percent and 19.5 percent respectively.

Imbalanced diets which focus on protein and lack calcium have been cited as the main reason behind malnutrition.

The institute said that daily portions of calcium range from 500 to 540 milligrams per person in Vietnam, equivalent to 50 to 60 percent of the recommended intake.

This small amount of calcium, however, is neutralized as Vietnamese people favor salty diets. Each person consumes about 15 milligrams of salt per day on average, three times higher than the recommended figure.

Malnourishment, coupled with a lack of exercise, has made 25 percent of Vietnamese children or some 1.9 million 10 centimeters shorter than their Asian peers.

In July, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam approved a campaign named “Milk to Schools”, which aims at providing milk to all six-year-old Vietnamese children in poor areas by 2020. 

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