A survey conducted by the HCM City Nutrition Centre’s showed that the obesity rate in two primary schools in HCM City’s District 10 with 2,500 students was around 30 per cent.
Hoang Thi Tin, a doctor at Pediatric Hospital, said that parents were encouraging their children to eat more at individual meals and allowing them to eat fast food as an expression of their love for them.
Eat what they want
Nguyen Thi Mong Thu of District 3 said her six-year-old son, who weighs 70 kg, likes soft drinks and she is reluctant to deny him foods.
Like Thu, many other parents permit their children to eat cakes, soft drinks and fast food.
Some parents promise their children that if they study hard during the weekdays or gain good marks, they will be given cakes, ice cream or fast food.
Tin said these misconceptions about food had led to a high increase in obesity, and most of these children were from well-off families or the only son or daughter.
TV advertisements about foods that are high in fat, salt and glucose on TV have also been blamed on the rising rate of obesity among children.
Many of the ads are able to attract children’s attention through the use of cartoon characters.
In a discussion held in March, the Viet Nam Standards and Consumer Association said the high rate of obesity among children had been partly caused by these TV ads.
The association has asked the Ministry of Health to draft regulations on food advertising for children, and suggested that the State should ban such ads on TV and radio between 6am and 9pm.
Nguyen Thi Minh Kieu, chairwoman of HCM City’s Food and Nutrition Association, said that children spend a lot of time studying, playing games and watching TV, resulting in little physical activity.
Do Thi Ngoc Diep, deputy head of the city’s nutrition centre, said the increase in obesity among children, particularly at the primary school level, was alarming and had caused concern among schools and health officials.
She said that obesity could lead to a number of debilitating conditions, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Tran Quoc Cuong of the centre’s nutrition consulting ward said that more than 100 children had been brought to the centre for consulting on obesity. Most of them were five – to six-years-old.