Nutrition interventions for enhanced child health outcomes in Hanoi, Vietnam
Ha L. T. Nguyen1, Lisa Biber-Freudenberger2, Simone Kathrin Kriesemer2, Eike Luedeling3, Swe Zin Moe4, Hoa Bui Thi Khanh5, Thi Sau Nguyen6, Thi Thu Giang Luu3, Cory Whitney3
1InnoGenEx Int'l, LTD, R&D, Vietnam
Food environments are the underlying physical, economic, political and sociocultural conditions that determine the availability, affordability, quality and safety of food as well as the information, advertising and promotion around food. The regular consumption of processed food and fast food is causing the rate of overweight and obese children in Hanoi to increase rapidly. We identified interventions that could improve children's diets. We applied participatory mapping and focus group discussions to co-develop a comprehensive understanding of families’ interactions with urban food environments in Hanoi, Vietnam. Based on participatory maps, we generated spatial information about food access and locations for potential interventions. We included 73 food environment stakeholders in our analysis, including mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, children, child-care specialists, "maids" and food vendors. Our research aims to identify possible interventions, for which we aim to project impacts using Decision Analysis methods. Decision Analysis is a methodology that can help decision-makers navigate complex decisions with limited information. Potential beneficiaries of interventions were identified in small children, primary school students, and young teens, who constitute the major risk groups for poor eating habits that can lead to chronic diseases. Stakeholders noted childhood obesity, likely due to exposure and access to abundant and unhealthy, cheap and convenient food options, parents overfeeding small children and sudden social pressure to lose weight for young teens. Participants expressed concerns regarding food safety, hygiene, and chronic diseases linked to poor eating habits and proposed two concrete interventions to promote healthy habits and nutritional knowledge among children and their families: the establishment of farmers' markets providing healthy food and school food events raising awareness among students. Both concrete interventions aim to promote healthy habits and nutritional knowledge among children and families. The market could operate at central locations and accommodate busy schedules. We co-identified other interventions as healthy traceable school meals, canteens for all schools, safe affordable food, food certification and labeling, self-supply through home gardens, urban agriculture, and community gardens. The next steps in our research will be to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed interventions, ultimately guiding the development of targeted strategies.
Keywords: Children's diets, decision analysis, gender, nutrition intervention, transdisciplinary approach, urban food environments
Contact Address: Simone Kathrin Kriesemer, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: simonekriesemergmx.de