Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Trends in overweight by socio-economic status in Vietnam: 1992 to 2002

Minh Duc Nguyena1, Shirley AA Beresforda2a3 and Adam Drewnowskia2a3 c1

a1 National Institute of Nutrition of Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam

a2 Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

a3 Center for Public Health Nutrition, 305 Raitt Hall, Box 353410, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3410, USA


Objective To explore socio-economic factors associated with rising rates of overweight among Vietnamese adults.

Design The study was based on three national surveys of socio-economic factors and health conducted over a 10-year period. The studies were: the Vietnamese Living Standard Survey 1992–1993 (11 982 participants); the Vietnamese Living Standard Survey 1997–1998 (15 975 participants); and the Vietnamese National Health Survey 2001–2002 (94 656 participants).

Subjects Male and female adults >18 years old were stratified by gender, age group, area of residence, occupation, education and relative food expenditures. Overweight was defined using body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg m− 2.

Results Overweight rates in Vietnam more than doubled between 1992 and 2002 (from 2.0 to 5.7%). Significant increases were observed for men and women, in urban and rural areas, and for all age groups. In univariate analyses, both age and higher socio-economic status were associated with higher rates of overweight. Using the most recent survey, urban populations were more likely to be overweight than rural ones (odds ratio (OR) = 1.79), white-collar workers were more likely to be overweight than manual labourers (OR = 1.95) and persons in the top level of food expenditures were more likely to be overweight than persons in the bottom level (OR = 4.96) after adjustment for other factors. Education was inversely associated with overweight after adjusting for covariates.

Conclusion Economic growth and improved standard of living are associated with higher rates of overweight in nations in early stages of economic development. In Vietnam, higher rates of overweight were observed among the higher income and occupation groups.

(Received August 09 2005)

(Accepted August 03 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email