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Interventions to prevent obesity in school-aged children 6-18 years: An update of a Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis including studies from 2015–2021

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-15, 23:00 authored by RK Hodder, KM O'Brien, S Lorien, L Wolfenden, THM Moore, A Hall, Serene YoongSerene Yoong, C Summerbell
Background: Childhood obesity remains a global public health priority due to the enormous burden it generates. Recent surveillance data suggests there has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cochrane review of childhood obesity prevention interventions (0–18 years) updated to 2015 is the most rigorous and comprehensive review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on this topic. A burgeoning number of high quality studies have been published since that are yet to be synthesised. Methods: An update of the Cochrane systematic review was conducted to include RCT studies in school-aged children (6-18 years) published to 30 June 2021 that assessed effectiveness on child weight (PROSPERO registration: CRD42020218928). Available cost-effectiveness and adverse effect data were extracted. Intervention effects on body mass index (BMI) were synthesised in random effects meta-analyses by setting (school, after-school program, community, home), and meta-regression examined the association of study characteristics with intervention effect. Findings: Meta-analysis of 140 of 195 included studies (183,063 participants) found a very small positive effect on body mass index for school-based studies (SMD –0·03, 95%CI –0·06,–0·01; trials = 93; participants = 131,443; moderate certainty evidence) but not after-school programs, community or home-based studies. Subgroup analysis by age (6–12 years; 13–18 years) found no differential effects in any setting. Meta-regression found no associations between study characteristics (including setting, income level) and intervention effect. Ten of 53 studies assessing adverse effects reported presence of an adverse event. Insufficient data was available to draw conclusions on cost-effectiveness. Interpretation: This updated synthesis of obesity prevention interventions for children aged 6–18 years, found a small beneficial impact on child BMI for school-based obesity prevention interventions. A more comprehensive assessment of interventions is required to identify mechanisms of effective interventions to inform future obesity prevention public health policy, which may be particularly salient in for COVID-19 recovery planning. Funding: This research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia (Application No APP1153479).






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Elsevier BV