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Vietnam introduces the new National Nutrition Strategy to combat growing obesity and non-communicable diseases

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In Vietnam, The National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) is developed every ten-years. The NNS sets out the goals, objectives and indicators that the country aims to achieve in nutrition areas and the actions and policy measures the Government needs to employ in order to achieve these targets. The new NNS was approved by the Ministry of Health on Jan 5, 2022 for the period of 2021-2030 with a broader vision leading up to 2045.

HealthBridge recognizes the importance of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Vietnam and has advocated for cost effective policy measures. Overweight and obesity is a growing health concern in Vietnam with a rapid increase in prevalence among both children and adults. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and it is estimated that in 2012, 73% of deaths and 66% of the total burden of disease in Vietnam were due to NCDs. Current evidence indicates that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased energy intake, weight gain, overweight and obesity, as well as with the development of several non-communicable diseases. Consumption of sugar sweetened drinks in Vietnam has increased drastically, seven fold in the last 15 years, from an average of 6.6 liters per person in 2002 to 46.5 liters per person in 2017 and 50.7 liters in 2018. Vietnam does not have a policy on compulsory nutrition labelling and taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, although these are effective measures recognized by the World Health Organization to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods.

Feb22 Harmful effects of SSB

In order to tackle the concerning rise in NCDs in Vietnam, HealthBridge has been working closely with our local partners to generate and document research-based evidence on:

  • The trend of overweight and obesity, its risk factors and health consequences;
  • International and local best practices and policies to control the consumption of unhealthy food and sugar-sweetened beverages;
  • The impact of these policies in reducing the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and other non-communicable diseases.

The evidence generated has been used to communicate with the general public and policy makers through various channels, including a webpage on nutrition, the press, Vietnam Television, and a Facebook fan page. A series of articles has been shared through these channels and the Facebook fan page “Risk Factors & Non-communicable Diseases” has been developed and maintained by the project since November 2021. Up to now, the page has attracted over 2,200 followers and nearly a hundred articles have been posted and shared.

Feb22 Sugar amount in SS Bs

HealthBridge has also used research-based evidence to provide comments and technical inputs directly to the Drafting Committee for each round of the NNS as it was being developed by the National Institute of Nutrition of the Ministry of Health, along with comments from local partners including UNICEF, World Health Organization in Vietnam, and Scaling up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Vietnam (SUN-CSA Vietnam)[1]. As a result of HealthBridge’s consistent and ongoing advocacy efforts, the new NNS includes objectives and accompanying key measures to strengthen Vietnam’s strategy for improving the nutritional status of people in Vietnam. In order to achieve the important objectives of reducing overweight and obesity, key policy measures including sugar-sweetened beverage tax and front-of-package labelling are featured in the new and approved NNS. The NNS will serve as the background for further legislative documents on sugar-sweetened beverage tax and front-of-package labeling in Vietnam. While the new NNS is a great success, in the future HealthBridge will continue to advocate for policy measures to improve the nutritional status of the Vietnamese people.

[1] SUN-CSA Vietnam comprised of 14 members organization that are non-profit organizations to support improvement in nutritional status, maternal and child health, and community health care at all levels from central to local.