Interventions for preventing obesity in children from birth to five years: A systematic review

Tamara Brown, Theresa Moore, Lee Hooper, Gao Yang, Sharea Ijaz, Carolyn Summerbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The evidence base on the efficacy of interventions for preventing obesity in children aged from birth to five years needs updating.
Systematic review of randomised controlled trials of obesity prevention interventions in children aged less than six, with at least 12-weeks follow-up data.
Interventions focussed on changing physical activity, diet, or a combination of both, at the individual and/or interpersonal level of the socioecological model. Most interventions lasted less than one year and 47 percent of the studies actively involved parents.
Diet, physical activity or combined interventions may reduce body mass index standard deviation (BMI-z) score in children aged 0-5 years. Post-intervention BMI-z score mean difference: -0.02 units, 95% confidence interval; -0.05 to 0.01, 8714 participants; 26 studies, I2 9%, low-quality evidence. Meta-analysis suggests that BMI-z score decreased by 4% compared to the assumed risk.
Obesity prevention interventions may be successful in producing small meaningful reductions in BMI-z score immediately post-intervention in children aged from birth to five years, but it is unclear whether this impact is sustained. The evidence base is substantial and unlikely to change with the addition of new evidence from trials of individual-level interventions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalObesity Reviews
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • obesity
  • prevention
  • systematic revew
  • Meta-Analysis


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