THAILAND - Citing the increasing problem of malnutrition in Thai children as alarming, the South East Asia Nutrition Survey (SEANUTS) research - supported by Foremost milk manufacturer FrieslandCampina - revealed that the main reason for this was a lack of exercise and insufficient nutrients. Hence, children should exercise regularly, eat healthy and drink milk daily.
The research - conducted in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam - has been in progress for three years. Phase two started in 2013 and is due to finish next year.
The Thailand survey in 2011 and 2012 involved 3,119 samplings aged 0.5-12.9 and was supervised by Mahidol University's (MU) Institute of Nutrition.
It was found that obese children aged three to six might also be overweight between the ages of six to 12.
Anaemia occurs twice as much in rural children than urban children while 30-40 per cent of the sampling had vitamin D deficiency.
Malnutrition came from receiving insufficient nutrients necessary for growth such as vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, iodine and calcium since the infant stage.
If the issue remains unchecked, it will lead to unhealthy characteristics in the population over the next decade that will become a national problem.
It is the government sector's responsibility to focus on the problem as well as implementing preventive measures to solve the problem, the study said.
Nutritionist and SEANUTS's principal investigator, Dr Nipa Rojroongwasinkul, said the issue of insufficient nutrition needed to be resolved through collaboration between family and state policy. Many parents lacked knowledge about nutrition.
Women require sufficient iron and iodine during their pregnancy, she said, adding failure to do so could affect a child's IQ.
Latest research showed that the average IQ for Thai children was 90-92, when it should be over 100 according to normal standards, she added.