Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Comparative Effectiveness Review and Meta-Analysis

AHRQ: June 10, 2013

Objectives. Childhood obesity is a serious health problem in the United States and worldwide. More than 30 percent of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. We assessed the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention programs by reviewing all interventional studies that aimed to improve diet, physical activity, or both and that were conducted in schools, homes, primary care clinics, childcare settings, the community, or combinations of these settings in high-income countries. We also reviewed consumer health informatics interventions. We compared the effects of the interventions on weight-related outcomes (e.g., body mass index [BMI], waist circumference, percent body fat, skinfold thickness, prevalence of obesity and overweight); intermediate outcomes (e.g., diet, physical activity); and obesity-related clinical outcomes (e.g., blood pressure, blood lipids).

Data sources. We searched MEDLINE®, Embase®, PsycInfo®, CINAHL®,, and the Cochrane Library through August 11, 2012.

Methods. Two reviewers independently reviewed each article for eligibility. For each study, one reviewer extracted the data and a second reviewer verified the accuracy. Both reviewers assessed the risk of bias for each study. Together, the reviewers graded the strength of the evidence (SOE) supporting interventions—diet, physical activity, or both—in each setting for the outcomes of interest. We quantitatively pooled the results of studies that were sufficiently similar. Only experimental studies with followup of at least 1 year (6 months for studies in school settings) were included. We abstracted data on comparisons of intervention versus control.   Read more