Vietnamese diet: Too much salt and not enough fruit and veg

By Nam Phuong   September 9, 2016 | 01:55 am PT
Cancer and heart disease are deadly threats to those who don't watch what they eat.

More than half of Vietnamese people don't meet the level of fruit and vegetable intake recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Health.

The survey analyzed about 4,000 locals aged from 18 to 69 across the country.

The WHO says a person should eat at least five servings or 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. However, the survey found that over 57 percent of Vietnamese are failing to consume the recommended daily intake. According to the survey, Vietnamese men eat less fruit and vegetables than women.

Five servings of fruit and vegetables per day can help reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes, diabetes and other non-infectious conditions, said Truong Dinh Bac, deputy head of the Preventive Medicine Department under the Health Ministry.

On top of that, Vietnamese also eat almost twice the recommended daily allowance of salt.

Researchers found that the average daily intake in Vietnam is 9.4 grams, while the WHO advises an adult should have no more than 5 grams of salt per day.

A salty diet can cause high blood pressure, strokes, stomach cancer, kidney failure, osteoporosis and other heart diseases.

Overall, most respondents said they knew eating too much salt is bad for their health, and about 70 percent said they don't exceed the daily intake of salt. However, the survey proved that many participants are unaware of the fact that they are eating too much salt.

Researchers also analyzed information from participants about how much time they spend exercising.

The results showed that about a third of Vietnamese adults do less physical exercise than the level recommended by the WHO, which says that a person who is sufficiently active should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

According to the study, most respondents meet the recommended level because they have physically demanding jobs. That means Vietnamese have little involvement in physical activity during their leisure time such as playing sports.

A lack of physical activity is the fourth most common cause of deaths as it can increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers, said health experts, adding that it can control weight and prevent non-communicable diseases.

Vietnam is grappling with a surge in non-transmissible diseases, said Nguyen Thanh Long, deputy health minister, adding that medical costs for the treatment of non-communicable diseases are 40-50 times higher than the costs of infectious diseases.

Official statistics show that non-communicable diseases, mostly cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, cause 73 percent of deaths in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, about 160,000 people aged between 30 and 70 die of non-communicable diseases a year.

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