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Vietnam's Childhood Obesity Rate Doubles Over 10 Years, Data Shows

Are Vietnamese children spending less time on active recreations and more at home?

Tuoi Tre News reports that new figures paint a worrying picture when it comes to the health of Vietnam's children. The Ministry of Health recently held a conference on results of the 2019–2020 National General Nutrition Survey, which showed that childhood obesity has doubled over the last decade.

In 2010, the last time this survey was held, among young Vietnamese aged 5–19, only 8.5% were classified as overweight or obese, a figure that rose to 19% last year.

This trend is particularly pronounced in urban areas, where the obesity rate has hit 26.8%, compared to 18.3% in rural areas and 6.9% in mountainous regions. An especially keen problem is found among urban elementary school students, whose obesity rate was determined to be 41.9%.

"The main reason is an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, which stems from parents compelling their children to overeat," Dr. Bùi Thị Nhung, head of the School and Occupational Nutrition Department, told the news source.

This can start from a young age, as health experts have seen preschoolers who are up to 5 kilograms above a healthy weight. If dietary habits don't change from that age, a child can grow to be up to 20 kilograms overweight by the time they reach middle school.

The news source adds that the survey found many parents who think their children don't get enough nutrition, even though they are perfectly healthy. Accordingly, 47% of 600 mothers surveyed in Hanoi, Da Nang and Hai Phong said they believed their children were malnourished, while only 2% who had an obese child believed they were obese.

Health officials have been sounding the alarm on rising rates of childhood obesity, particularly in cities, for years, as unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles have led to a huge increase in this problem.