Objective: To assess changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents in urban districts of Ho Chi Minh City between 2002 and 2004.
Methods: Two surveys were conducted among high school students (11-16 years) in 2002 (n = 1003 students) and 2004 (n = 2684). International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) sex and age specific BMI cut-offs were used to define overweight and obesity. Underweight was defined as a BMI-for-age z-score <-2, based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2000 growth reference. In 2002, students completed a questionnaire about household assets. In 2004, parents answered questions about their weight, height, education, occupation, and ownership of 14 household assets.
Results: The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased from 5.0% and 0.6% in 2002, to 11.7% and 2.0% in 2004, respectively (p<0.001), while the prevalence of underweight decreased from 13.1% to 6.7%. There was a significant increase in prevalence of overweight and obesity by gender over the two years: the 113% increase in prevalence of overweight and obesity in boys was significantly greater than the 39% increase in girls (p<0.001). The percentage increase in overweight and obesity was considerably lower in adolescents from the poorest households (33%), than from the other quintiles of wealthier households (ranging from 77% to 124%) (p<0.001).
Conclusions: The prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents in Ho Chi Minh City is increasing rapidly. There is an urgent need to implement strategies for prevention and control amongst the adolescents of Ho Chi Minh City and other urban areas in Vietnam.