Intra-individual double burden of overweight and micronutrient deficiencies among Vietnamese women


Background: Vietnamese Living Standard Surveys showed that the rate of overweight and obese in Vietnamese adults doubled between 1992 and 2002, from 2% to 5.5%, respectively with no significant difference in the proportions of overweight/obesity between men and women.

Objectives: Considering the increasing public health concern over the double burden of malnutrition in Vietnam, we investigated micronutrient deficiencies among women of reproductive age according to their Body Mass Index.

Methods: A transversal study was conducted in 2010 among 1530 women of reproductive age from 19 provinces. Participating women were asked to give a non-fasting blood sample for plasma iron, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12 and zinc assessment.

Results: Although % body fat was associated with haemoglobin, ferritin, retinol and zinc concentrations, BMI category was only associated with marginal vitamin A status (19% among underweight vs 7% among overweight/obese; p<0.0001) and not with iron deficiency anemia, zinc deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency or folate status. The prevalence of iron, and vitamin B12 deficiencies was respectively 11.4% and 15% among the 20% overweight/obese women; prevalence of zinc deficiency and marginal/deficient folate status was much higher, affecting respectively 61.1% and 25.8%. Intra-individual double burden of malnutrition (overweight/obesity (OW) and micronutrient deficiency) was observed among 2.0% for OW-anemia, 2.3% OW-iron deficient, 3.0% for OW-Vitamin B12 deficiency, 12.2% for OW-Zinc deficiency and 5.2% for OW-marginal/deficient folate status.

Conclusions: This large, cross-sectional survey demonstrated that micronutrient deficiencies are an issue across the weight spectrum among women in Vietnam, with only vitamin A status being better among overweight than underweight women. It is therefore essential for Vietnam to actively prevent women of reproductive age from overweight/obesity and at same time to control micronutrient deficiencies in this population to limit their economic and health consequences.

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