The obesity rate has swelled, especially among children under five, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Deputy Director Le Bach Mai said on October 10.

The number of children under five who are overweight or obese reached 6.3 percent in 2013, an increase of nine times compared to 2000, according to NIN. In Ho Chi Minh City , this percentage was more than 11 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of overweight and obese adults doubled from 6.6 percent in 2005 to 13 percent in 2013.

Poor nutrition was the main cause for the increasing obesity rate, as well as the rapid increase of non-transmitted diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, Mai said, adding that those preferring soft drinks were 3.2 times more likely to be overweight or obese.

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

Eating less sugar and salt will help prevent obesity as well as these corresponding diseases, Mai said.

The NIN will organise a nationwide nutrition week from October 16-23. The annual event aims to raise awareness about preventing malnutrition through the improvement of daily family meals. During the week, the institute will collaborate with localities to promote knowledge on gardening and husbandry as well as daily nutrition among families, especially in mountainous, remote and natural disaster-prone areas.

A communications campaign will encourage people to eat more nutritious food, teach food safety and hygiene habits and confront children's malnutrition and obesity prevention issues.-VNA