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Open Access Research article

Nationwide shifts in the double burden of overweight and underweight in Vietnamese adults in 2000 and 2005: two national nutrition surveys

Do TP Ha12*, Edith JM Feskens2, Paul Deurenberg3, Le B Mai1, Nguyen C Khan4 and Frans J Kok2

Author Affiliations

1 Community Nutrition Department, National Institute of Nutrition, Hanoi, Vietnam

2 Human Nutrition Division, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands

3 Nutrition Consultant, Singapore

4 Food Administration, Ministry of Health, Vietnam

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:62  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-62

Published: 30 January 2011

Abstract

Background

In developing countries, overweight prevalence is increasing while underweight prevalence is still high. This situation is known as the double nutrition burden. Both underweight and overweight are related to increased risk of chronic non-communicable diseases, reduced well-being and quality of life. This study aims to compare the prevalence of overweight and underweight among Vietnamese adults in 2000 and 2005.

Methods

The study was based on two nationally representative surveys, the National Nutrition Survey 2000 (14,452 subjects) and the National Adult Obesity Survey 2005 (17,213 subjects). Adults aged 25-64 years were sampled to be nationally representative. Multiple multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the association of underweight and overweight with socio-economic indicators.

Results

The distribution of BMI across the population and population groups indicated a shift towards higher BMI levels in 2005 as compared to 2000. The nationwide prevalence of overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) was 6.6% and 0.4% respectively in 2005, almost twice the rates of 2000 (3.5% and 0.2%). Using the Asian BMI cut-off of 23 kg/m2 the overweight prevalence was 16.3% in 2005 and 11.7% in 2000. In contrast, the underweight prevalence (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2) of 20.9% in 2005 was lower than the rate of 25.0% in 2000. Women were more likely to be both underweight and overweight as compared to men in both 2000 and 2005. Urban residents were more likely to be overweight and less likely to be underweight as compared to rural residents in both years. The shifts from underweight to overweight were clearer among the higher food expenditure levels.

Conclusions

The double nutrition burden was clearly present in Vietnam. The distribution of BMI across the population groups generally indicated a shift towards higher BMI levels in 2005 as compared to 2000. The prevalence of overweight was increased while the declined level of undernutrition was still high in 2005. The shifts of underweight to overweight were most obvious among population groups with higher food expenditure levels.