Parents should increase the amount of attention paid to children's height and health (Photo:tuoitre)
Parents and guardians are responsible for making sure their children grow up strong, but at present many don't pay enough attention to their children's health, said Tran Huong Duong, Deputy Director of the Family Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Duong spoke at an August 14 conference in Hanoi on increasing the amount of attention paid to children’s height and health from 2015 to 2030.

"With industrialisation and urbanisation, parents spend less and less time on their children," he said.

Low-income households lacking the money to feed their children properly could also account for the widespread malnutrition and other health problems. In 2013, one in every four children under five suffered from malnutrition, which can affect later development.

The ministry's latest survey on Vietnamese families showed that 25 percent of fathers and 7 percent of mothers did not pay attention to their children because they were busy with work.

Some parents have left their hometowns to seek jobs in bigger cities, leaving their children with others and not keeping tabs on their development, Duong said.

Vietnamese people are shorter on average than those in other Southeast Asian countries, and that can be a sign of health issues, he said. Vietnamese men are 1.64m tall on average, while Thai and Malaysian men are 1.67m and 1.68m, respectively. Vietnamese women are 1.53cm on average, whereas Indonesian and Thai women are 1.55m and 1.57m.

"Factors that affect height include genes, nutrition, exercise and living conditions. The three last factors are closely connected to how parents care for their kids," Duong said.

The Government should educate parents and guardians on the role family plays in making sure children grow up healthy, he said, adding that the education should focus on social skills, nutrition and physical activity, with help from concerned ministries and organisations.

Nguyen Trong An, Deputy Director of the Research and Training Centre for Community Development and former Deputy Director of the Department of Protection and Care of Children under the Ministry of Health, said the most care should be taken during the children's first three years.

Good care and nutrition in the first three years would help reduce child fatalities and economic burdens related to congenital malformation. It would also improve the children's lifelong health and the national economy, An said.-VNA