A lack of physical activity and inappropriate diets are to blame for the high rate of obesity among primary school students, according to a new study by the National Institute of Nutrition.
The rate of overweight and obeseprimary school students is 29 percent, according to a recent study
The study shows that the rate of overweight and obese primary schoolstudents is 29 percent, higher than that of secondary school students (19 percent)and high school students (9.5 percent).
The study was conducted between 2017 and 2018 on 5,028 students aged 7 to 17years old at 75 schools in Hanoi, HCM City and Thai Nguyen, Nghe An and Soc Trangprovinces.
It revealed shortcomings in the nutritional intake and physical activity ofchildren of different ages.
According to the study, primary school students’ dietary intake exceeds therecommended dietary allowance in terms of energy and protein. However, theyhave a low level of physical activity, leading to a high rate of obesity,especially in urban areas.
Meanwhile, intake of secondary and upper secondary school students lagsbehind the recommendation for energy, iron, zinc and various types ofvitamins, resulting in a high rate of malnutrition in lower and secondaryschool students.
The study also points out some factors leading to obesity including age,gender, area, socio-economic status, living conditions and the education levelof parents.
The high number of overweight children can be attributed to an inactivelifestyle and excessive consumption of low nutrition, high-fat foods such asfast food and soft drinks.
Speaking at a workshop held on July 3 to release the study results, deputydirector of the National Nutrition Institute Truong Tuyet Mai said Vietnam wasfacing a dual burden of malnutrition and obesity.
The study found a high rate of malnutrition in rural areas while urbanareas recorded higher rates of obesity.
A survey by the Institute in 2017 showed that the stunting rate for childrenunder 5 was 23.8 percent while the rate of underweight children was at 13.8 percent,meaning one out of every four Vietnamese children under the age of fivewas stunted or malnourished.
"Students make up more than a quarter of the nation's population and theyrepresent the future of the country so it is necessary to have policies andintervention programmes to provide appropriate nutrition for kidsand encourage them to exercise," Mai said.
The institute conducted the study to gain an overview of the nutritionalstatus of students so as to propose appropriate solutions to tackle riskfactors and improve nutrition in the future, helping to improve the healthof Vietnamese people and provide high-quality human resources to contribute tothe development of the country, she said.
Tran Thuy Nga, head of the institute’s Micronutrient Research Department, saidmalnutrition and obesity lead to many diseases such as diabetes, high bloodpressure and some cancers.
She recommended appropriate intervention programmes to prevent malnutritionamong children in rural areas and obesity in urban areas and suggestedenhancing school-based education on balanced healthcare andnutrition.
She said families, schools and government agencies need to createfavourable conditions for children to have healthy and balanced meals, createplaygrounds for children to exercise and play sports and ensure childrensleep enough each night.
Vietnam has set to reduce childhood malnutrition andthe stunting rate to less than 20 percent and the obesity rate amongadolescents under 12 percent by 2025.-VNA