Household food insecurity, diet, and weight status in a disadvantaged district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A cross-sectional study

Vuong, Thuy Ngoc, Gallegos, Danielle, & Ramsey, Rebecca (2015) Household food insecurity, diet, and weight status in a disadvantaged district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 15(232).

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Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, economic and socially acceptable access to safe, sufficient, and adequately nutritious food in order to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. For high income countries and those experiencing the nutrition transition, food security is not only about the quantity of available food but also the nutritional quality as related to over- and under-nutrition. Vietnam is currently undergoing this nutrition transition, and as a result the relationship between food insecurity, socio-demographic factors and weight status is complex. The primary objective of this study was to therefore measure the prevalence of household food insecurity in a disadvantaged urban district in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam using a more comprehensive tool. This study also aims to examine the relationships between food insecurity and socio-demographic factors, weight status, and food intakes.


A cross-sectional study was conducted using multi-stage sampling. Adults who were mainly responsible for cooking were interviewed in 250 households. Data was collected on socioeconomic and demographic factors using previously validated tools. Food security was assessed using the Latin American and Caribbean Household Food Security Scale (ELCSA) tool and households were categorized as food secure or mildly, moderately or severely food insecure. Questions regarding food intake were based on routinely used and validated questions in HCMC, weight status was self-reported.


Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was 0.87, showing the ELCSA had a good internal reliability. Approximately 34.4% of households were food insecure. Food insecurity was inversely related to total household income (OR = 0.09, 95% CI = 0.04 - 0.22) and fruit intakes (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.31 - 4.22). There was no association between weight and food security status.


Despite rapid industrialization and modernization, food insecurity remains an important public health issue in large urban areas of HCMC, suggesting that strategies to address food insecurity should be implemented in urban settings, and not just rural locations. Fruit consumption among food insecure households may be compromised because of financial difficulties, which may lead to poorer health outcomes particularly related to non-communicable disease prevention and management.

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ID Code: 83204
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Household food insecurity, Diet, Weight, Vietnam
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-1566-z
ISSN: 1471-2458
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Public Nutrition Intervention (111104)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Vuong et al.; licensee BioMed Central.
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Deposited On: 08 Apr 2015 22:56
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2015 22:49

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