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Interventions for Preventing Obesity in Children


Summerbell CD, Waters E, Edmunds L, Kelly SAM, Brown T, Campbell KJ

Topic: Obesity
Chronic Conditions
Type: Article
Region: International (other)

The current evidence suggests that many diet and exercise interventions to prevent obesity in children are not effective in preventing weight gain, but can be effective in promoting a healthy diet and increased physical activity levels.Being very overweight (obese) can cause health, psychological and social problems for children. Children who are obese are more likely to have weight and health problems as adults. Programmes designed to prevent obesity focus on modifying one or more of the factors considered to promote obesity.This review included 22 studies that tested a variety of intervention programmes, which involved increased physical activity and dietary changes, singly or in combination. Participants were under 18 and living in Asia, South America, Europe or North America. There is not enough evidence from trials to prove that any one particular programme can prevent obesity in children, although comprehensive strategies to address dietary and physical activity change, together with psycho-social support and environmental change may help. There was a trend for newer interventions to involve their respective communities and to include evaluations.Future research might usefully assess changes made on behalf of entire populations, such as improvements in the types of foods available at schools and in the availability of safe places to run and play, and should assess health effects and costs over several years.The programmes in this review used different strategies to prevent obesity so direct comparisons were difficult. Also, the duration of the studies ranged from 12 weeks to three years, but most lasted less than a year.



Rights: © The Cochrane Collaboration
Suggested citation:

Summerbell CD, Waters E, Edmunds L, Kelly SAM, Brown T, Campbell KJ. (2009) Interventions for Preventing Obesity in Children [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st August 2019].


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