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Vietnamese 3 centimeters taller on average over the last 10 years

January 08, 2021 | 00:09

Vietnamese are getting taller with the average height for men and women last year growing by 3.7 and 2.6 centimeters, respectively, compared to 2009.

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Students at a primary school in Ho Chi Minh City attend a back-to-school ceremony on September 5, 2019 (Photo: VNE)
Students at a primary school in Ho Chi Minh City attend a back-to-school ceremony on September 5, 2019 (Photo: VNE)

The National Nutrition Census 2020, released by the Ministry of Health at a conference Wednesday, stated the average height for men rose to 168.1 centimeters and women, 156.2 centimeters.

In Southeast Asia, Vietnamese are only shorter than people in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The study measured the height of people born in the 2000s, who reached adulthood in 2020 and benefited from a thriving economy with many healthcare programs.

The rate of stunted children under five years old decreased to 19.6 percent, considered a low level according to World Health Organization classification, it found.

As reported by VNE, in 2018 the Vietnamese government launched a nation-wide Zero Hunger program with the goal of lowering malnutrition rates and stunted growth through improved nutrition and sustainable food production.

Data collected since the late 1990s shows the proportion of those undernourished in Vietnam dropped from 19.8 percent to 6.4 percent, wasting in children slipped from 9 percent to 5.8 percent while the nation's child stunting rate has been cut from 42.9 percent to 23.8 percent between 2002 and 2019, according to the 2020 Global Hunger Index.

18-year-old Vietnamese students (Photo: VNE)
18-year-old Vietnamese students (Photo: VNE)

The government launched another program in 2013 aimed at improving the nutrition and physical health of its citizens, which could increase the average height of the population. The $285 million project targets that by 2030 the average height of women and men would have increased to 157.5 centimeters and 168.5 centimeters.

The U.S.'s World Population Review in September 2019 ranked Vietnamese the fourth shortest people in the world, with an average height of 162.1 centimeters, taller only than Indonesians, Filipinos and Bolivians.

Europeans are the world's tallest people, occuppying the top 10 list. People in the Netherlands are 183.8 cm tall, followed by Montenegro (183.2 cm), Denmark (182.6 cm) and Norway (182.4 cm).

The average Vietnamese man is 162.1 cm tall and the average woman 152.2 cm, far shorter than their Asian peers like Chinese, Singaporeans, Japanese, and South Koreans.

The averages are 170.7 cm and 157.4 for South Korean, 169 cm and 158 cm for Chinese and 172 cm and 158 cm for Japanese.

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(Illustration: VNE)

According to a UNICEF report, Vietnam also has the highest rate of stunting in Southeast Asia with a rate of 23.8 percent among children under five. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including lack of nutrition in early childhood.

"Genetics determine the bone elongation but environmental factors, especially nutrition, help children reach their full height potential no matter the geographical and cultural differences," Robert Murray, professor of human nutrition, College of Education and Human Ecology, at Ohio State University, said.

UNICEF also said more than 230,000 children under five in Vietnam suffer from severe acute malnutrition every year, which is a major cause of stunting and death, according to VNE.

According to a UNICEF report, Vietnam also has the highest rate of stunting in Southeast Asia with a rate of 23.8 percent among children under five. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including lack of nutrition in early childhood.

"Genetics determine the bone elongation but environmental factors, especially nutrition, help children reach their full height potential no matter the geographical and cultural differences," Robert Murray, professor of human nutrition, College of Education and Human Ecology, at Ohio State University, said.

UNICEF also said more than 230,000 children under five in Vietnam suffer from severe acute malnutrition every year, which is a major cause of stunting and death, according to VNE.

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