Third of pre-school children in Vietnam suffer from malnutrition and stunted growth, shows survey.
The state-run Vietnam News Agency said this meant more than three million children under the age of five in the communist country of 86 million people were malnourished, underweight or suffered from growth deficiencies.
"Malnutrition remains a problem in many of the poor, isolated rural areas of Vietnam, particularly mountainous areas," Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien said in remarks posted on his ministry's website.
Vietnam's mountainous areas are home to many of the country's ethnic minority groups and suffer from high levels of poverty.
High rates of child malnutrition not only hinder the development of the children themselves, but also affect "the potential of economic and social development in general," in Vietnam, Tien said.
"At the same time, urban areas are facing the problem of childhood obesity. The situation requires quick action so we don't make the same mistakes as other middle-income countries," he added.
The study by the National Institute of Nutrition was based on research in 2009 and 2010.
Childhood obesity rates have seen a six-fold rise since 2006 and now run at up to 15 percent in wealthier urban areas including the capital Hanoi and southern Ho Chi Minh City, according to the survey of more than 37,000 people.