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Average height of Vietnamese youths shows remarkable improvement: nutrition survey

The average height of Vietnamese youths has shown remarkable improvements, reaching 168.1cm for 18-year-old males in 2020, up 3.7 cm from 2020, and 156.2cm for 18-year-old females, up from 154.8cm, according to the National General Nutrition Survey for 2019-2020, which was released by the Health Ministry’s National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) on April 15.

Conducted every 10 years, the survey was a joint effort between the NIN and the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s General Statistics Office, with support from many international organisations.

Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen said the survey is the largest of its kind on a nationwide scale and involved 22,400 households in 25 cities and provinces representing six ecological areas. It collected anthropometrical data as well as those on micro-nutrients, individual food portions, food security, and food hygiene and safety.

He added that the survey reveals the overall landscape of nutritional intake in Vietnam, progress made over the past decade, and the challenges in the time to come.

Malnutrition is still too common around the country, particularly in disadvantaged and ethnic minority areas. Excessive weight and obesity are rising in both urban and rural areas and among people of different ages, leading to an uncontrollable rise in non-communicable diseases relating to diet. Besides, there remain problems in quality and safety of food consumed by people in daily life.

Tuyen said the survey is significant in assessing goals in the national nutrition strategy for the 2011-2020 period and in providing scientific evidence to serve the drafting of national nutrition strategies in subsequent periods.

The prevalence of excessive weight and obesity rose from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2020, including 26.8 percent in urban areas, 18.3 percent in rural areas, and 6.9 percent in mountainous areas.

The use of micro-nutrients and the rate of breastfeeding in the first six months of a new-born’s life improved significantly, from 19.6 percent in 2010 to 45.4 percent in 2020. The figure was 55.7 percent in urban areas, 40.3 percent in rural areas, and 42.7 percent in mountainous areas.

Up to 35.8 percent of respondents possessed good knowledge on food safety, while 55.6 percent had average knowledge and 8 percent low knowledge. The rate of people accessing official information on food safety has doubled since the previous survey in 2010.

Vietnamese also consumes more vegetable and fruits, averaging 231 grams and 140.7 grams  per person a day respectively compared to 190.4 grams and 60.9 grams in 2010. However, the consumption only reached 66.4-77.4 percent of the recommended amount. The daily consumption of meat rose rapidly to 136.4 grams per person from 84.0 grammes 10 years ago, while consumption of rice decreased.