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New Study Reveals 29% of Primary School Students in Vietnam Are Overweight

According to a recent study by the Vietnam National Institute of Nutrition, the substantial obesity rate among elementary school students is due to a lack of physical exercise and imbalanced diets.

As reported by Dan Tri, the study suggests that 29% of primary school students in Vietnam are overweight or obese. Rates amongst secondary school students and high school students are 19% and 9.5%, respectively. The study looked at 5,028 students ages seven to 17 from 75 schools in Hanoi and Saigon as well as Thai Nguyen, Nghe An and Soc Trang provinces between 2017 and 2018.

The study's authors suggest that the consumption of energy and protein among elementary school students exceeds the recommended dietary allowances. This, together with a lack of physical exercise, results in a high rate of obesity, especially for those in urban areas. Meanwhile, secondary and upper secondary school students suffer from malnutrition due to low intake of energy, iron, zinc and various types of vitamins.

Besides sedentary lifestyles and excessive saturated fat from fast food and soft drinks, the study also highlights that age, gender, area, socio-economic status, living conditions and parents’ education level contribute to obesity among children. It also found that a clear contrast between rural and urban areas in terms of nutritional conditions. While rural areas suffer from malnutrition, their urban counterparts experience considerable obesity rates.

Truong Tuyet Mai, deputy director of the National Nutrition Institute, told the news source that new policies and programs are needed to alleviate nutritional deficiencies and establish sensible diets for young children. She also said physical activity must be encouraged.

The head of the institute, Tran Thuy Nga, agreed and elaborated that an intervention plan must be implemented to establish an educational program about healthcare and nutrition in schools. She also suggested that the government create an environment where children can have access to a healthy diet,  more playgrounds for sports and other physical activities and also sufficient sleep at night.

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