Vietnam Planning On Implementing Program To Increase The Height Of Its People

A story I found recently when I was doing research for another website was the fact that the nation of Vietnam has decided to try to implement programs in its national health program to possibly increase the height of its population.

The population of Vietnam has increased very little in average population height compared to its other asian nations neighbors. The main reason is from either a lack of food, and not getting the right type of food to eat to gain the nutrients that are needed to promote proper growth. about 30% of ll vietnamese youths have their growth stunted from the lack of right nutrition. For the 16-18 years old range, they are only getting around 60% of all the needed nutrition they need.

The average vietnamese men is around 163 cm and the average height of females is around 153 cm. The government hopes to increase the average height of the vietnamese people by 4 cm by the year 2020 through a $30 million program. The government recently put about $180,000 into the program to jump start it again.

From LookAtVietnam.Com …

Boosting the height of Vietnamese a tall order

April 19, 2009

Raising the height of Vietnamese seems like a distant goal, despite a remarkable improvement in their living standards in the past decades.

LookAtVietnam – Raising the height of Vietnamese seems like a distant goal, despite a remarkable improvement in their living standards in the past decades.

Chief of the School and Work Nutrition Department Le Nguyen Bao Khanh said more than 30 per cent of Vietnamese students aged 6-18 years old were underdeveloped because of lack of energy, vitamins and minerals.

She said young people stopped growing by the time they were 19 and many were dwarfish. The percentage of underdeveloped students in Viet Nam had not fallen despite an improvement in living standards. This was because many parents did not pay proper attention to nutrition.

Yet, the problem is to be addressed soon. Former director of the Viet Nam Sport Science Institute Duong Nghiep Chi said the institute had completed a programme to increase the height and weight of Vietnamese people.

Proposed by the institute in 2004, the nutrition, genetics and exercise programme was an ambitious plan to raise the average height of Vietnamese by 3-4mm by 2010.

But, it was shelved until early this year when the Government decided to grant VND3 billion (US$187,000) to complete it.

Chi said the project had not been implemented earlier because of a lack of funding.

However, a National Institute of Nutrition source said the VND600 billion ($37 million) project was delayed until a suitably experienced official could be found to handle it.

The programme is geared to raise the average height of Vietnamese males from 163cm to 167cm and females from 153cm to 157cm by 2020.

The institute hopes to implement the full-scale programme next year.

Chi said the targets were achievable. He said it had been proven elsewhere in the world that it was possible to raise the average height of people by 7mm in 10 years. He said parents must stress the importance of nutrition and exercise during the crucial teenage years.

“Vietnamese families are raising their children in the wrong way,” he said.

Khanh’s survey showed Vietnamese mothers often took more care of their children when they were babies than when they were of school age.

“Vietnamese youth are shorter than the youth in other countries in the region,” she said.

Mother Nguyen Thu Phuong said she invested a lot of time in cooking nutritious meals for her daughter when she was less than three years old. Phuong said she wasn’t concerned until she saw her daughter, now aged 9 years, getting thinner.

“I will not give her a special regime again if she looks plump and healthy,” Phuong said.

Khanh said the average height of 18-year-old males in Viet Nam was 1.63m and for females, 153cm. This compared to 170cm for males and females of the same age in Japan.

Viet Nam Nutrition Association chairman Ha Huy Khoi said the height of the Vietnamese would continue increasing if living standards improved. He cited surveys showing that nutrition was the optimal factor in the growth of children.

Yet, Khanh’s survey showed the three daily meals of students aged 6-18 met only 60 per cent of nutritional demands.

The survey also found that traditional meals with rice did not provide children with sufficient energy, vitamins and minerals.

“Efforts to improve nutrition among school age children have almost been forgotten,” Khanh said.

No one had done a survey on the regime for day-boarding students. At present, the meals were based on an agreement between parents and schools.

“I don’t know if there are enough nutrients in school meals,” one mother said, “but my son told me food was repeated every week.”

There are programmes and projects contributing to improved nutrition and raising the height and physical strength of Vietnamese people. But most of them concentrate on children under five years old.

The National Institute of Nutrition said the average height of mature people had increased by 15mm in the past two decades. This indicated there had been a remarkable improvement in living standards.

Deputy head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Student Management Department Vu Duy Anh said physical exercise was also necessary to improve the stature of Vietnamese.

From IrinNews.Com …..

VIETNAM: Striving to achieve height

The Vietnamese diet is heavy in rice and lacks essential vitamins and protein. The government is launching a campaign to improve diets in a bid to increase people’s height

HANOI, 24 April 2009 (IRIN) – When it comes to reducing poverty and eradicating hunger, few other countries have made the kind of dramatic gains that Vietnam has. Not only have income levels doubled every few years since 1990, but Vietnam is now a major food exporter. So in a country that is rapidly rising out of poverty why are one third of Vietnamese children malnourished?

In some areas, particularly in the mountainous regions where large numbers of ethnic minorities live, poverty is still to blame. But government health officials say that even in wealthier urban areas, poor eating habits, ignorance and a failure to cook nutritious food are the main culprits.

“Now parents are richer, but it doesn’t mean they know how to feed their children in the right way,” said Truong Hong Son, secretary of the National Programme on Malnutrition.

Parents have good intentions but the typical Vietnamese diet is heavy in rice, which does not provide the vitamins and protein that children need. “Traditional meals in Vietnam only meet 60 percent of nutrition demands of school-age children,” said Le Nguyen Bao Khanh, who heads the School and Work Department at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).


Government studies indicate that 32.6 percent of Vietnamese children under five – about 4.6 million of them – are so malnourished that their growth is stunted. 

Poor nutrition is the reason why Vietnamese youth are much shorter than their peers in the region, said Duong Nghiep Chi, a senior adviser to the Vietnam Sport Science Institute, the government agency tasked with raising heights.

Following the end of the US-Vietnam war, when food was more available, there was a national growth spurt. But Chi said, despite this past 10 years of rising incomes, children did not grow as tall as health experts predicted.

“The height of the Vietnamese people has improved, but too slowly,” said Chi. He argues it is not simply an aesthetic issue. Taller and stronger people are healthier and more productive. The Vietnamese are “now shorter than other people in the world, and even in Asia,” according to Chi. “Low height and poor health affect the quality of our labour force and the advancement of our people.”

According to NIN in Hanoi, the average Vietnamese man is 163cm tall and the average woman 152cm. A Japanese man, by comparison, is 171cm tall, and a Japanese woman 158cm.

Achieving those heights will not be easy. With help from UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank, the government already funds nutrition programmes that provide pregnant women and infants with vitamins and food supplements. Son, of the National Programme on Malnutrition, says unfortunately government programmes only reach 40 percent of those who need help.

But money is not the only issue, Pamela Wright, country representative of the Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam (MCNV), told IRIN. Tackling malnutrition is not like eradicating polio or other public health problems, she said, where a national military-style campaign, which Vietnam excels in, works well.

“Tailor-made approach”

The problem with nutrition is that it requires a tailor-made approach in each area according to the issues there,” said Wright. Some districts remain very poor and there is simply not enough food. In others, food is not distributed evenly. Then there is not using the food that is available, she said.

MCNV staff say there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to tackling malnutrition. For severe cases, they have come up with a soy bean-based nutritional powder which can be added to food – one that the Vietnamese like. But they are also experimenting with programmes that teach women to cook more nutritious meals with the food that they already have. MCNV also promotes more home gardening and raising of pond fish.

The government plans to launch a new offensive to address the problem. Concerned about people’s short stature, a new five-year programme to spur growth rates is slated to start this year. The $33 million campaign will educate parents about the importance of nutritious meals, introduce fitness classes in school and provide nutritional supplements where necessary. The long-term target is to add four centimetres to the average Vietnamese citizen by the year 2020

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