Childhood obesity rate increasing in big cities hinh anh 1The obesity rate among Vietnamese school-aged children has increased (Photo: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) - The obesity rate among Vietnamese school-aged children has increased, particularly in big cities like Hanoi, HCM City, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

The number of overweight children at primary schools in Hanoi rose to 40 percent - and ranged between 30-40 percent in HCM City, Da Nang and Hai Phong - according to the Deputy Head of the National Institute of Nutrition, Nguyen Thi Lam.

Poor nutrition at school was the main cause for the increasing obesity rate, she said.

An appropriate school menu for children would help kids eat more-balanced meals, helping reduce the rate of childhood obesity. But planning nutritional meals is complicated and needs support from nutrition experts. So this can only be done properly at nursery schools and kindergartens, at present.

Meanwhile, nutrition for children at primary schools and upwards mostly depends on the amount of money their parents pay. And the menu and portions for normal, overweight and obese kids are the same.

The amount of food children eat at school is also difficult for parents and teachers to control.

The lack of physical activities for children is also part of the problem. According to a study by the institute, more than 30 percent of children in Vietnam spend three hours a day at home, sitting while eating, watching television, and playing online games. This rate increases to 50 percent of children aged 16-17 and 34 percent of children aged 13-15.

Making the matter worse, up to 53 percent of mothers in Hanoi do not know their children’s weight exceeds standards, according to the institute.

Vietnam has nearly five million diabetic patients; the diabetes rate of people aged 20-79 increased from 1.2 percent in 1990 to 5.8 percent in 2013, according to the health ministry.

To help children at schools eat healthier meals, the institute is co-operating with the education and training departments of big cities - like Hanoi, HCM City, Hai Phong and Da Nang - to implement a trial programme to consult with schools to improve daily meals for pupils.

The programme includes activities such as equipping teachers and pupils with knowledge relating to daily nutrition. It also helps schools plan menus with more nutritious food, to help deal with childhood malnutrition and obesity.-VNA