Child malnutrition remains challenge in Southeast Asia: study

June, 20/2022 - 16:21
A recent study of nearly 14,000 children aged six months to 12 years throws light on the ‘triple burden’ of malnutrition – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity, which often co-exist in the same country and even in the same family. 

 

A recent study shows that malnutrition is still a huge challenge faced by children in Southeast Asia. — Photo courtesy of FrieslandCampina

HCM CITY — A recent study of nearly 14,000 children aged six months to 12 years throws light on the ‘triple burden’ of malnutrition – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity, which often co-exist in the same country and even in the same family. 

The South East Asian Nutrition Surveys (SEANUTS II) showed that stunting and anaemia still exist, especially in younger children.

However, in older children, there is a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity. 

Most children do not have the average calcium and vitamin D intake and show vitamin D insufficiency.

The ‘triple burden’ makes it a matter of great importance to fill nutritional gaps with proper nutrition interventions and educational programmes.  

Dr Poh Bee Koon, principal investigator for SEANUTS II in Malaysia and professor of nutrition at Universiti Kebangsaan, said healthy nutrition is about balance, moderation and variety. 

More than 70 per cent of the children in all four countries did not get the average calcium need and 84 per cent, the average vitamin D requirement, he said.

“These numbers emphasise the urgent need to improve food security as well as the availability of food products that meet the children’s.” 

Margrethe Jonkman, global director of Research & Development at FrieslandCampina, said: “Research is key to getting a better understanding of local nutritional needs. 

“The results from this study will help the company in developing better and affordable products that meet the nutritional needs of children and in setting up programmes to promote a well-balanced diet and active lifestyle in collaboration with local authorities, health workers and schools.”

The study was commissioned by FrieslandCampina, one of the world’s largest dairy co-operatives, and conducted between 2019 and 2021 by leading universities and research institutes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Việt Nam.

SEANUTS I was presented in 2012. — VNS