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Medical experts believe that malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency are the direct causes of Vietnamese adolescents’ low height.

According to the National Institute of Nutrition, many Vietnamese children under the age of five face micronutrient deficiencies, with one in four classified as malnourished, SGGP reports. Moreover, the average height of these children is significantly lower than their peers in developed countries and some Southeast Asia nations.

Diets devoid of essential vitamins and minerals in the first five years from birth are said to be the main cause. Statistically, Vietnamese children’s food portions only account for 60.3% of calcium and 10.6% of Vitamin D requirements.

According to the news source, stunted children are also affected by poorly functioning digestive systems, parasite infections, inborn deformities, and especially parents ill-equipped with the necessary knowledge to raise small children. Diets which lack protein energy and micronutrients not only result in malnutrition, but also stunt height growth, notably in children who are not fed breast milk and do not have proper supplemental meals.

Statistics from the National Institute of Nutrition show that genetic inheritance only determines 23% of a child’s height, while diet contributes up to 32%, along with other factors including the environment, the child’s mental state and exercise.

Saigon is home to the lowest child malnutrition rate in the country, with an underweight rate of 4.4% and stunted growth rate of 6.8%, though previous health statistics have found that an estimated 50% of children in Saigon are obese.

[Photo via SGGP]

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