This project aimed to inform interventions to reduce obesity in young children. In recent years the focus of obesity prevention has shifted to preschool children – due to the high prevalence of obesity at school entry and recognition that habits formed in early life often persist into later life. In order to develop effective interventions it is important to understand the four energy-balance related behaviours (EBRB) associated with obesity. Namely: 1) intake of sugary drinks; 2) intake of high calorie foods; 3) less fruit and vegetable intake; 4) sedentary behaviour and low levels of physical activity.
We searched almost 40,000 papers and identified studies describing interventions to change the four behaviours we were interested in, studies that described the factors associated with these behaviours and asked children and caregivers their opinions on changing them.
Our findings showed that multi-level interventions (child, parents, school, community), including parental modelling of healthy behaviours, show promise in changing EBRBs in young children. Qualitative evidence also indicates that future interventions should target the barriers to behaviour change. Long-term sustainability, impact on inequalities and potential for implementation in routine practice of interventions should also be considered.
These findings can be used by policy makers and researchers to develop and test interventions to prevent future childhood obesity.
For further reading visit the SPHR Initial Projects page.