Swift intervention measures will be taken to reduce the increasing rate of chronic diseases and obesity among children in HCM City , according to a healthcare official.

Do Thi Ngoc Diep, director of the HCM City Nutrition Centre, said 11.5 percent of children under five in the city were obese or overweight, compared to 8.8 percent in 2009.

In addition, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and some cancers have also increased rapidly, she said.

Speaking at a meeting on March 2 on city nutrition programmes, Diep said that inappropriate dietary intake, lack of physical activities and lifestyle habits were to blame for the increasing rates of diseases and obesity.

However, she said the malnutrition rate among children under five in the city had dropped to the country's lowest, 6.8 percent.

This year, city authorities will earmark 8.5 billion VND (405,000 USD) for nutrition intervention programmes that will focus on malnutrition, obesity prevention and prevention of iodine and vitamin A deficiencies.

The aim this year is to cut the rate of obesity and overweight cases to below 11 percent, and to have a malnutrition rate of no more than 6.8 percent.

More than 70 percent of households in the city have been targeted to use iodised salt, and more than 90 percent of children between six and 36-months-old will be advised to take vitamin A.

Priorities will be given to children, pregnant women and women with under-five children in outlying areas as well as to workers in industrial parks and export processing zones./.