|One in every three Vietnamese children under the age of five is either malnourished or overweight as a result of poor diets and a food system that is failing them.
The report provides a comprehensive assessment of 21st-century child malnutrition in all its forms. It describes a triple burden of malnutrition, namely undernutrition, hidden hunger caused by a lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under the age of five.
The report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s life. This finding was highlighted by a landscape analysis carried out by the Vietnam National Institute of Nutrition in 2019 on complementary feeding and maternal nutrition as part of the Regional Initiative for Sustained Improvements in Nutrition and Growth (RISING). The analysis showed that complementary feeding practices and maternal nutrition in Vietnam are largely inadequate and inappropriate, contributing to the burden of malnutrition.
In Vietnam, inadequate maternal diets lead to underweight and overweight women who are more likely to have low birth weight babies. Meanwhile, inadequate diets during the complementary feeding phase, when the first foods are introduced to young children aged between 6 months and 2 years, are common in the country.
According to the 2015 national nutrition surveillance, 18 percent of the children do not have a diet that is sufficiently diverse and 36 percent are not fed frequently enough.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said malnutrition among Vietnamese, particularly children, remains at a high level compared to other nations in the region.
He added that there is 57 percent of the local population eating a diet that lacks of vegetables and nutrition but contains high sodium and starch intake.
The official tasked the Ministry of Health with boosting measures to tackle the issue, particularly at alarming areas like the northern mountainous and Central Highlands regions as well as working with relevant agencies to improve the diets of women and young children.
On the occasion, Dam, UNICEF representatives, and other delegates signed a commitment to improving the diets of women and young children during the complementary feeding period.