Objective: To assess the nutritional status of adolescents in Ho Chi Minh City, and in particular determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescents across different sub groups, based on gender, household economic status and geographic location.
Design: A cross-sectional survey based on a two-stage cluster sampling design.
Setting: Secondary high schools in Ho Chi Minh City.
Subjects: There were 1504 adolescents involved in the study, of which 50% were girls and the mean age of participants was 13.1 years.
Results: Overall, 4.9% of the students were overweight and 0.6% were obese, while 13.1% of the students were underweight. The prevalence of underweight was significantly higher in boys than girls (p=0.001) and overweight and obesity were also higher in boys although these differences were not statistically significant (p=0.074). There was a much higher prevalence of overweight and obesity in students from schools in wealthy urban districts (8.2% and 0.6%, respectively) in comparison to students from schools in rural or semi-rural districts (1.6% and 0.2%, respectively) and these differences were statistically significant (p<0.001).
Conclusions: A transition in nutritional status is underway in this population of adolescents where overweight and obesity are emerging as a public health problem, but underweight remains a significant problem.