Representatives of the HCM City Nutrition Centre and other agencies plan to work more closely to attain the goals of the national nutrition strategy over the next 10 years.

Dr Le Bach Mai, deputy head of the National Institute of Nutrition, said the strategy calls for better nutrition for mothers and children, including reducing the rate of children under 5 years old and mothers who have insufficient vitamin B and iron or suffer from anemia.

The plan also calls for improvement of the quality of meals, food safety and hygiene.

The strategy sets goals to reduce the rates of obesity, low weight and stunted growth among children under 5 years old by 2020.

The aim is to cut the number of underweight children to 14 percent by 2015 and to under 10 percent by 2020. The obesity rate would drop under 5 percent by 2020 and the number of children with stunted growth, under 25 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.

"Cooperation between nutrition centres and agencies is very important," Mai said.

To Thi Kim Hoa, deputy head of the city's Department of Health, said the department and its awareness centre are be ready to continue to cooperate with the city's Nutrition Centre to develop specific activities to improve nutrition, especially for children, the elderly and workers.

Huynh Ngo Tinh, head of the Youth Worker Support Centre under the municipal Communist Youth Union, said the centre and the nutrition centre will continue to offer counselling to residents about the kind of food.

The Youth Union will also encourage owners of companies to offer better meals for their workers. This will contribute to better productivity and improve retention of workers.

Nguyen Tai Dung, deputy head of the Division of Student Affairs under the Department of Education and Training, said the department has been working with nutrition centres and schools, and opening training courses for teachers and school managers.

The programmes have helped the city cut the rate of underweight children, but the obesity rate among children is still high, nearly 20 percent.

Citing the rising obesity rates, Bui Thi Bang Tuyet, a specialist at the department's Kindergarten Education Office, asked the centre to help schools raise awareness of parents on the importance of good nutrition for their children./.