Micronutrient deficits are still public health issues among women and young children in Vietnam

Background: The 2000 Vietnamese National Nutrition Survey showed that the population's dietary intake had improved since 1987. However, inequalities were found in food consumption between socioeconomic groups. As no national data exist on the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies, a survey was conducted in 2010 to assess the micronutrient status of randomly selected 1526 women of reproductive age and 586 children aged 6–75 mo.

Principal Findings: In women, according to international thresholds, prevalence of zinc deficiency (ZnD, 67.2±2.6%) and vitamin B12 deficiency (11.7±1.7%) represented public health problems, whereas prevalence of anemia (11.6±1.0%) and iron deficiency (ID, 13.7±1.1%) were considered low, and folate (<3%) and vitamin A (VAD, <2%) deficiencies were considered negligible. However, many women had marginal folate (25.1%) and vitamin A status (13.6%). Moreover, overweight (BMI≥23 kg/m2 for Asian population) or underweight occurred in 20% of women respectively highlighting the double burden of malnutrition. In children, a similar pattern was observed for ZnD (51.9±3.5%), anemia (9.1±1.4%) and ID (12.9±1.5%) whereas prevalence of marginal vitamin A status was also high (47.3±2.2%). There was a significant effect of age on anemia and ID prevalence, with the youngest age group (6–17 mo) having the highest risk for anemia, ID, ZnD and marginal vitamin A status as compared to other groups. Moreover, the poorest groups of population had a higher risk for zinc, anemia and ID.

Conclusion: The prevalence of anemia and ID in Vietnam has been markedly reduced over the last decade, but a large part of the population is still at risk for other deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin A, folate and vitamin B12 especially the youngest children aged 6–17 mo. Consequently specific interventions to improve food diversity and quality should be implemented, among them food fortification of staple foods and condiments and improvement of complementary feeding.



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