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Vietnamese people shorter than other Asians

By An Hong   March 4, 2016 | 07:39 pm GMT+7

About 25 percent of Vietnamese children - about 1.9 million of them - are on average 10 centimeter shorter than their Asian peers due to malnourishment, government studies indicate.

The average height of Vietnamese people has steadily risen over recent decades, said Associate Professor Le Bach Mai, deputy head of the National Institute of Nutrition at a workshop in Hanoi on Tuesday, adding that the average Vietnamese man is currently 164.4cm tall and the average woman 153.4cm.

However, the average height has risen only between 1cm and 1.5cm over the past 10 years due mainly to poor eating habits, said Mai.

The typical Vietnamese diet is heavy in protein but lacking in calcium. Traditional meals in Vietnam only meet 60 percent of calcium requirements which are recommended for school-aged children.

In addition, the consumption of salt or sodium is too high, according to government health experts,  with the average person consuming 15 mg per day or about three times more sodium than they need. A high level salt intake increases the amount of calcium discharged in urine.

Associate Professor Mai added that minerals such as vitamins A and D were also pivotal in determining height, and the daily diet of Vietnamese people only meets about 10 percent of the necessary amount.

The Vietnamese government launched a program in 2013 aimed at improving the nutrition and physical health of its citizens, which could increase the average height of the population.

The target for the project, which was estimated to cost $285 million, is that by 2030, the average height of a Vietnamese woman will rise to 157.5cm, while men will reach 168.5cm.