Vietnamese are world's fourth shortest people: Survey
Updated at Thursday, 26 Sep 2019, 15:15
The Hanoitimes - The average height of Vietnamese people is far shorter than their Asian peers.
With an average height of 162.1 centimeters (cm) for men and 152.2cm for women, Vietnamese are the fourth shortest people in the world, local media quoted a survey by the World Population Review as saying.
The average height of Vietnamese people is far shorter than their Asian peers. The respective averages are 170.7cm and 157.4cm for South Korean men and women, 169cm and 158cm for Chinese and 172cm and 158cm for Japanese. Cambodians are taller than Vietnamese, with an average male height of 162.5cm.
Vietnamese people are only taller than Indonesians (158 cm), Filipinos (161.9 cm), and Bolivians (160 cm).
According to the World Population Review, the tallest people in the world are the Dutch (183.8 cm), followed by the Montenegrins (183.2 cm), the Danes (182.6 cm) and the Norwegians (182.4 cm).
According to a UNICEF report, Vietnam also has the highest rate of stunting in Southeast Asia with a rate of 23.8% among children under five years old. This is attributed to a number of reasons, including lack of nutrition in early childhood.
The Vietnamese government launched a program in 2013 which was aimed at improving the nutrition and physical health of its citizens, which could increase the average height of the population. The US$285 million project targets that by 2030 the average heights of women and men will increase to 157.5 cm and 168.5 cm.
Government studies show that about 25% of Vietnamese children under five years old are on average 10 centimeter shorter than their Asian peers due to undernourishment, said Associate Professor Le Bach Mai, former deputy head of the National Institute of Nutrition.
However, the average height has risen only between 1cm and 1.5cm over the past 10 years due mainly to poor diet, said Mai.
The typical Vietnamese diet is heavy in protein but lacks calcium. Traditional meals in Vietnam only meet 60% of recommended calcium requirements for school-aged children.
In addition, the consumption of salt or sodium is too high, according to the health expert, with the average person consuming 15 mg per day or about three times more sodium than the necessary amount. A high level salt intake increases the amount of calcium discharged in urine.
Associate Professor Mai added that minerals such as vitamins A and D were also pivotal in determining height, but the daily diet of Vietnamese people only meets about 10% of the amount needed.