Children in the middle income South East Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are facing simultaneous crises in over and under-nutrition, according to a new joint report from UNICEF, WHO and ASEAN.

Data in the report shows that while in Indonesia, some 12 per cent of children are overweight and the same proportion are underweight, in Thailand, the percentage of those underweight increased from five to seven per cent between 2006 and 2012 while the proportion of overweight children increased from eight per cent to 11 per cent over the same period.

Christiane Rudert, regional nutrition advisor for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, said that while many countries in South East Asia have seen impressive economic gains over the past decade and lifted millions out of poverty, at the same time there has also been a rise in obesity.

"Asian children are now at risk of malnutrition from both ends of the spectrum," she said.

The report said the causes of children being overweight and undernourished are intertwined with a child whose growth is stunted in early childhood at greater risk of being overweight later in life.

Other findings in the report show that almost 75 per cent - or 12 million - of the 17 million stunted children in ASEAN nations live in Indonesia and the Philippines while Laos has the highest proportion of stunted children at 44 per cent.

~ www.unicef.org