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Food consumption patterns and associated factors among Vietnamese women of reproductive age

Phuong H Nguyen12*, Garrett Strizich3, Alyssa Lowe4, Hieu Nguyen1, Hoa Pham1, Truong V Truong1, Son Nguyen1, Reynaldo Martorell4 and Usha Ramakrishnan4

Author Affiliations

1 Thai Nguyen University of Pharmacy and Medicine, Thai Nguyen, Vietnam

2 International Food Policy Research Institute, Hanoi, Vietnam

3 Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

4 Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:126  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-126

Published: 12 September 2013


Background and objectives

Adequate nutrient intakes among women of reproductive age (WRA) are important determinants of maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes. However, data on dietary intake for WRA in Vietnam are lacking. This paper aimed to examine the adequacy and determinants of energy and macronutrient intakes among WRA enrolled in a study of preconceptual micronutrient supplementation (PRECONCEPT) being conducted in 20 rural communes in Thai Nguyen province, Vietnam.


Dietary intakes were determined for 4983 WRA who participated in the baseline survey using a previously validated 107-item (semi-quantitative) food-frequency questionnaire that was administered by trained field workers. Multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine factors associated with energy and macronutrient intakes.


A disproportionate number of energy came from starches, primarily rice. Carbohydrate, fat and protein constituted 65.6%, 19.5% and 14.8% of total energy, respectively. Fat intake was below recommended levels in 56.5% of respondents, but carbohydrate intakes were above recommended level in 54.6%. Only 0.1% and 5.2% of WRA achieved adequate intake of n-3 and n-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, respectively. Multivariate linear regression revealed that low education, low socioeconomic status, and food insecurity were significant predictors of reduced total energy intake, reduced energy from protein and fat, and greater energy from carbohydrates. Logistic regression confirmed that inadequate macronutrient intake was more common among the poor, food insecure, and less educated.


Imbalanced dietary intakes among underprivileged women reflect lack of dietary diversity. Nutrition programs should be linked with social development, poverty reduction, education programs and behavior change counseling in order to improve the nutritional status of WRA in Vietnam.

Food frequency questionnaire; Food consumption; Macronutrient intakes; Thai Nguyen; Vietnam; Women of reproductive age