Vietnam records surge in childhood obesity

By Thuy Quynh, Thu Anh   April 14, 2021 | 11:05 pm PT
Vietnam records surge in childhood obesity
Study finds Vietnamese children consume lots of fast food and soft drink. Illustration photo by Shutterstock/SUPERMAO.
The prevalence rate of overweight and obese children in Vietnam has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

By 2020, for every 100 children between the ages of five and 19, 19 are either overweight or obese, a sharp increase compared to the figure of 8.5 in 2010, the National Institute of Nutrition announced Thursday.

The report noted the rate of overweight and obese children is 26.8 percent in urban areas, 18.3 percent in rural districts and 6.9 percent in mountainous regions.

Meat consumption increased rapidly, from 84 grams per person per day in 2010 to 136.4 grams in 2020. Urban meat consumption was higher, at 155.3 grams.

Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen said the nutritional census is the largest ever conducted in Vietnam with 22,400 households of 25 provinces and cities across the country. The aim of the investigation is to collect indicators of anthropology, micronutrients, individual diets as well as information on food security and food hygiene.

"Overweight and obese rates are on the rise across all age groups and in both urban and rural areas, leading to an uncontrolled increase in dietary-related non-communicable diseases," he said.Tuyen added the national strategy on nutrition for the 2011-2020 period achieved many important results but has not yet improved micronutrient deficiency, controlled overweight and obesity rates among adults, along with a number of other goals.

The health ministry has set a target of controlling obesity and overweight rates among children under five years at 5 percent in rural areas and 10 percent in urban areas.

Rana Flowers, a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Vietnam, said the nation is facing an overweight and obesity burden.

She warned of an increase in the consumption of soft drinks and fast food in schools across urban cities.

School-aged children are facing a "double burden" of obesity and stunting, she said.

"The levels of stunting in children under five years, and the iron and zinc deficiency in women and children, particularly in the northern mountainous region and the Central Highlands demand urgent and sustained action and budget."

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