Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Trends in overweight and obesity in pre-school children in urban areas of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from 2002 to 2005

Huynh Thi Thu Dieua1 c1, Michael J Dibleya2, David W Sibbritta3 and Tran Thi Minh Hanha1

a1 Nutrition Centre of Ho Chi Minh City, 180 Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

a2 School of Public Health and The George Institute for International Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

a3 Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia


Objective To assess the trends in overweight and obesity in pre-school children in urban areas of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, over the period 2002 to 2005.

Design Two cross-sectional studies were conducted in 2002 and 2005. Multistage cluster sampling was used in both surveys to select the subjects. Sociodemographic information was collected using a self-administered questionnaire given to parents in 2002 and using an interview-administered questionnaire to parents in 2005. Weight and height were measured using the same standard methods in both surveys. BMI (kg/m2) was calculated and overweight/obesity was defined using the age- and sex-specific BMI cut-off points proposed by the International Obesity Taskforce.

Subjects and setting Children aged 4 to 5 years, attending pre-schools in urban areas of HCMC, Vietnam, in 2002 (n 492) and 2005 (n 670).

Results The prevalence of overweight and obesity almost doubled from 2002 to 2005 (21·4 % and 36·8 %, respectively). The increase was more evident in less wealthy districts than in wealthy districts. The proportion of boys classified as obese in 2005 (22·5 %) was three times that in 2002 (6·9 %).

Conclusion The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased rapidly in children aged 4 to 5 years in urban areas, and especially in less wealthy districts, over a 3-year period. These results signal an urgent need for prevention programmes to control and reverse this rapid upward trend in overweight and obesity in young children in HCMC.

(Received October 31 2007)

(Accepted May 02 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email