Vietnamese grow 4 cm in 35 years, remain shorter than neighbors

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Vietnamese are shorter than their neighbors, experts said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on March 26, blaming it on poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.

Men are 164.4 centimeters (5 feet 4 inches) on average and women are 153 centimeters (roughly 5 feet), four centimeters more than 35 years ago.

Delegates quoted nutrition studies as saying that one in five children under five is underweight and one in three, undersized.

Do Thi Ngoc Diep, director of the city Nutrition Center, said a child's physique depends 20 percent on genes and more than 50 percent on nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

"A child's height is decided between the embryo stage and puberty, especially between the ages of one and eight; after that, the growth is not significant," she said.

Doctors at the conference said children need deep sleep and should go to sleep before 10 p.m. and exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

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