Patterns of food consumption in Vietnam: effects on socioeconomic groups during an era of economic growth

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;58(1):145-53. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601761.


Objective: To identify if the nutritional status and improvements in Vietnam during the 1990s applied equally to the key vulnerable population groups (poor, rural, and ethnic minority) as it did to the nonpoor-largely in the urban areas.

Design: This study used cross-sectional analyses in the context of inequalities occurring in the diets of the poor and nonpoor that accompanied economic improvements during the Vietnam Doi Moi period.

Setting: During the Doi Moi period in Vietnam.

Subjects: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted on data using 23,839 individuals (4800 households) from the Vietnam Living Standard Survey (VLSS) in 1992-1993 and 28,509 individuals (6,002 households) from the Vietnam Living Standard Survey in 1997-1998. Analysis for changes in food consumption was conducted on 17,763 individuals (4,305 households) that were included in both surveys.

Intervention: None.

Results: After initiation of Doi Moi in 1986, the average Vietnamese person reached the dietary adequacy of 2,100 kcal per day per capita in the early 1990s, but this did not improve during the next decade. The structure of diet shifted to less starchy staples while proteins and lipids (meat, fish, other protein-rich higher fat foods) increased significantly. Although the gap in nutrient intake between the poor and the nonpoor decreased, the proportion of calories from protein- and lipid-rich food for the poor is lower than for the nonpoor. The VLSS data showed that the increase of protein and lipid foods in total energy structure over the 5 y between the VLSS studies for poor households was 0.43% (CI=0.33, 0.53) and 0.47% (CI=0.41, 0.54) lower, respectively, than for nonpoor households (P<0.0001). Inequalities compared to the nonpoor were also found in both quantity and quality of food consumption. For example, poor households consumed (quantity) 127 kcal/day (CI=119, 135) less from meat, and 32 kcal/day (CI=27, 38) less from fats than nonpoor households (P<0.0001), and the proportion of calories consumed (quality) by poor households was 5.8% (CI=5.4, 6.1) less from meat and 0.96% (CI=1.2, 0.7) less from fats than by nonpoor households (P<0.0001).

Conclusions: Although the key vulnerable groups-rural, poor, and minority populations-showed improvements in diet, there still remains an inequity between these groups and the nonpoor of the population. In particular, the vulnerable groups consumed less of their daily consumption from the desirable high-quality proteins of animal foods and fats, and more from cereals and other starches-lagging the better-off populations in desired composition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / standards*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Ethnicity
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritive Value
  • Poverty*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Vietnam


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins