A systematic review of home-based childhood obesity prevention studies

Nakiya N Showell, Oluwakemi Fawole, Jodi Segal, Renee F Wilson, Lawrence J Cheskin, Sara N Bleich, Yang Wu, Brandyn Lau, Youfa Wang
Pediatrics 2013, 132 (1): e193-200

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Childhood obesity is a global epidemic. Despite emerging research about the role of the family and home on obesity risk behaviors, the evidence base for the effectiveness of home-based interventions on obesity prevention remains uncertain. The objective was to systematically review the effectiveness of home-based interventions on weight, intermediate (eg, diet and physical activity [PA]), and clinical outcomes.

METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, PsychInfo, CINAHL,, and the Cochrane Library from inception through August 11, 2012. We included experimental and natural experimental studies with ≥1-year follow-up reporting weight-related outcomes and targeting children at home. Two independent reviewers screened studies and extracted data. We graded the strength of the evidence supporting interventions targeting diet, PA, or both for obesity prevention.

RESULTS: We identified 6 studies; 3 tested combined interventions (diet and PA), 1 used diet intervention, 1 combined intervention with primary care and consumer health informatics components, and 1 combined intervention with school and community components. Select combined interventions had beneficial effects on fruit/vegetable intake and sedentary behaviors. However, none of the 6 studies reported a significant effect on weight outcomes. Overall, the strength of evidence is low that combined home-based interventions effectively prevent obesity. The evidence is insufficient for conclusions about home-based diet interventions or interventions implemented at home in association with other settings.

CONCLUSIONS: The strength of evidence is low to support the effectiveness of home-based child obesity prevention programs. Additional research is needed to test interventions in the home setting, particularly those incorporating parenting strategies and addressing environmental influences.

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