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      Diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions for the treatment of overweight or obese children from the age of 6 to 11 years


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          Child and adolescent overweight and obesity has increased globally, and can be associated with significant short‐ and long‐term health consequences. This is an update of a Cochrane review published first in 2003, and updated previously in 2009. However, the update has now been split into six reviews addressing different childhood obesity treatments at different ages.


          To assess the effects of diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions (behaviour‐changing interventions) for the treatment of overweight or obese children aged 6 to 11 years.

          Search methods

          We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, LILACS as well as trial registers ClinicalTrials.gov and ICTRP Search Portal. We checked references of studies and systematic reviews. We did not apply any language restrictions. The date of the last search was July 2016 for all databases.

          Selection criteria

          We selected randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of diet, physical activity, and behavioural interventions (behaviour‐changing interventions) for treating overweight or obese children aged 6 to 11 years, with a minimum of six months' follow‐up. We excluded interventions that specifically dealt with the treatment of eating disorders or type 2 diabetes, or included participants with a secondary or syndromic cause of obesity.

          Data collection and analysis

          Two review authors independently screened references, extracted data, assessed risk of bias, and evaluated the quality of the evidence using the GRADE instrument. We contacted study authors for additional information. We carried out meta‐analyses according to the statistical guidelines in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

          Main results

          We included 70 RCTs with a total of 8461 participants randomised to either the intervention or control groups. The number of participants per trial ranged from 16 to 686. Fifty‐five trials compared a behaviour‐changing intervention with no treatment/usual care control and 15 evaluated the effectiveness of adding an additional component to a behaviour‐changing intervention. Sixty‐four trials were parallel RCTs, and four were cluster RCTs. Sixty‐four trials were multicomponent, two were diet only and four were physical activity only interventions. Ten trials had more than two arms. The overall quality of the evidence was low or very low and 62 trials had a high risk of bias for at least one criterion. Total duration of trials ranged from six months to three years. The median age of participants was 10 years old and the median BMI z score was 2.2.

          Primary analyses demonstrated that behaviour‐changing interventions compared to no treatment/usual care control at longest follow‐up reduced BMI, BMI z score and weight. Mean difference (MD) in BMI was ‐0.53 kg/m 2 (95% confidence interval (CI) ‐0.82 to ‐0.24); P < 0.00001; 24 trials; 2785 participants; low‐quality evidence. MD in BMI z score was ‐0.06 units (95% CI ‐0.10 to ‐0.02); P = 0.001; 37 trials; 4019 participants; low‐quality evidence and MD in weight was ‐1.45 kg (95% CI ‐1.88 to ‐1.02); P < 0.00001; 17 trials; 1774 participants; low‐quality evidence.

          Thirty‐one trials reported on serious adverse events, with 29 trials reporting zero occurrences RR 0.57 (95% CI 0.17 to 1.93); P = 0.37; 4/2105 participants in the behaviour‐changing intervention groups compared with 7/1991 participants in the comparator groups). Few trials reported health‐related quality of life or behaviour change outcomes, and none of the analyses demonstrated a substantial difference in these outcomes between intervention and control. In two trials reporting on minutes per day of TV viewing, a small reduction of 6.6 minutes per day (95% CI ‐12.88 to ‐0.31), P = 0.04; 2 trials; 55 participants) was found in favour of the intervention. No trials reported on all‐cause mortality, morbidity or socioeconomic effects, and few trials reported on participant views; none of which could be meta‐analysed.

          As the meta‐analyses revealed substantial heterogeneity, we conducted subgroup analyses to examine the impact of type of comparator, type of intervention, risk of attrition bias, setting, duration of post‐intervention follow‐up period, parental involvement and baseline BMI z score. No subgroup effects were shown for any of the subgroups on any of the outcomes. Some data indicated that a reduction in BMI immediately post‐intervention was no longer evident at follow‐up at less than six months, which has to be investigated in further trials.

          Authors' conclusions

          Multi‐component behaviour‐changing interventions that incorporate diet, physical activity and behaviour change may be beneficial in achieving small, short‐term reductions in BMI, BMI z score and weight in children aged 6 to 11 years. The evidence suggests a very low occurrence of adverse events. The quality of the evidence was low or very low. The heterogeneity observed across all outcomes was not explained by subgrouping. Further research is required of behaviour‐changing interventions in lower income countries and in children from different ethnic groups; also on the impact of behaviour‐changing interventions on health‐related quality of life and comorbidities. The sustainability of reduction in BMI/BMI z score and weight is a key consideration and there is a need for longer‐term follow‐up and further research on the most appropriate forms of post‐intervention maintenance in order to ensure intervention benefits are sustained over the longer term.

          Diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions for the treatment of overweight or obese children from the age of 6 to 11 years

          Review question

          How effective are diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions in reducing the weight of overweight or obese children aged 6 to 11 years?


          Across the world more children are becoming overweight and obese. These children are more likely to suffer from health problems, both while as children and in later life. More information is needed about what works best for treating this problem.

          Study characteristics

          We found 70 randomised controlled trials (clinical trials where people are randomly put into one of two or more treatment groups) comparing diet, physical activity, and behavioural (where habits are changed or improved) treatments to a variety of control groups delivered to 8461 overweight or obese children aged 6 to 11 years. We reported on the effects of 64 multicomponent interventions (different combinations of diet and physical activity and behaviour change), four physical activity interventions and two dietary interventions compared with no intervention, 'usual care’ or some other therapy if it was also delivered in the intervention arm. The children in the included studies were followed up between six months and three years.

          Key results

          The average age of the children was 10 years. Most studies reported the body mass index (BMI) z score: BMI is a measure of body fat and is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by the square of the body height measured in metres (kg/m²). In children, BMI is often measured in a way that takes into account sex and age, weight, and height changes as children grow older (BMI z score).

          We summarised the results of 37 trials in 4019 children reporting the BMI z score, which on average was 0.06 units lower in the intervention groups compared with the control groups. We summarised the results of 24 trials in 2785 children reporting BMI, which on average was 0.53 kg/m 2 lower in the intervention groups compared with the control groups. We summarised the results of 17 trials in 1774 children reporting weight, which on average was 1.45 kg lower in the intervention groups compared with the control groups.

          Other effects of the interventions, such as improvements in health‐related quality of life were less clear. No study investigated death from any cause, morbidity or socioeconomic effects. Serious adverse events were rare: only two of 31 trials with data reported any serious adverse events (4/2105 participants in the behaviour‐changing intervention groups compared with 7/1991 participants in the comparator groups). This evidence is up to date as of July 2016.

          Quality of the evidence

          The overall quality of the evidence was low or very low, mainly because of limited confidence in how studies were performed, and the results were inconsistent between the studies. Also there were just a few studies for some outcomes, with small numbers of included children.

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          Most cited references413

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          Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

          In 2010, overweight and obesity were estimated to cause 3·4 million deaths, 3·9% of years of life lost, and 3·8% of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) worldwide. The rise in obesity has led to widespread calls for regular monitoring of changes in overweight and obesity prevalence in all populations. Comparable, up-to-date information about levels and trends is essential to quantify population health effects and to prompt decision makers to prioritise action. We estimate the global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013. We systematically identified surveys, reports, and published studies (n=1769) that included data for height and weight, both through physical measurements and self-reports. We used mixed effects linear regression to correct for bias in self-reports. We obtained data for prevalence of obesity and overweight by age, sex, country, and year (n=19,244) with a spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression model to estimate prevalence with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs). Worldwide, the proportion of adults with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m(2) or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 28·8% (95% UI 28·4-29·3) to 36·9% (36·3-37·4) in men, and from 29·8% (29·3-30·2) to 38·0% (37·5-38·5) in women. Prevalence has increased substantially in children and adolescents in developed countries; 23·8% (22·9-24·7) of boys and 22·6% (21·7-23·6) of girls were overweight or obese in 2013. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has also increased in children and adolescents in developing countries, from 8·1% (7·7-8·6) to 12·9% (12·3-13·5) in 2013 for boys and from 8·4% (8·1-8·8) to 13·4% (13·0-13·9) in girls. In adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeded 50% in men in Tonga and in women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa. Since 2006, the increase in adult obesity in developed countries has slowed down. Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Interventions for preventing obesity in children.

            Prevention of childhood obesity is an international public health priority given the significant impact of obesity on acute and chronic diseases, general health, development and well-being. The international evidence base for strategies that governments, communities and families can implement to prevent obesity, and promote health, has been accumulating but remains unclear. This review primarily aims to update the previous Cochrane review of childhood obesity prevention research and determine the effectiveness of evaluated interventions intended to prevent obesity in children, assessed by change in Body Mass Index (BMI). Secondary aims were to examine the characteristics of the programs and strategies to answer the questions "What works for whom, why and for what cost?" The searches were re-run in CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychINFO and CINAHL in March 2010 and searched relevant websites. Non-English language papers were included and experts were contacted. The review includes data from childhood obesity prevention studies that used a controlled study design (with or without randomisation). Studies were included if they evaluated interventions, policies or programs in place for twelve weeks or more. If studies were randomised at a cluster level, 6 clusters were required. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of included studies.  Data was extracted on intervention implementation, cost, equity and outcomes. Outcome measures were grouped according to whether they measured adiposity, physical activity (PA)-related behaviours or diet-related behaviours.  Adverse outcomes were recorded. A meta-analysis was conducted using available BMI or standardised BMI (zBMI) score data with subgroup analysis by age group (0-5, 6-12, 13-18 years, corresponding to stages of developmental and childhood settings). This review includes 55 studies (an additional 36 studies found for this update). The majority of studies targeted children aged 6-12 years.  The meta-analysis included 37 studies of 27,946 children and demonstrated that programmes were effective at reducing adiposity, although not all individual interventions were effective, and there was a high level of observed heterogeneity (I(2)=82%).  Overall, children in the intervention group had a standardised mean difference in adiposity (measured as BMI or zBMI) of -0.15kg/m(2) (95% confidence interval (CI): -0.21 to -0.09).  Intervention effects by age subgroups were -0.26kg/m(2) (95% CI:-0.53 to 0.00) (0-5 years), -0.15kg/m(2) (95% CI -0.23 to -0.08) (6-12 years), and -0.09kg/m(2) (95% CI -0.20 to 0.03) (13-18 years). Heterogeneity was apparent in all three age groups and could not explained by randomisation status or the type, duration or setting of the intervention.  Only eight studies reported on adverse effects and no evidence of adverse outcomes such as unhealthy dieting practices, increased prevalence of underweight or body image sensitivities was found.  Interventions did not appear to increase health inequalities although this was examined in fewer studies. We found strong evidence to support beneficial effects of child obesity prevention programmes on BMI, particularly for programmes targeted to children aged six to 12 years. However, given the unexplained heterogeneity and the likelihood of small study bias, these findings must be interpreted cautiously. A broad range of programme components were used in these studies and whilst it is not possible to distinguish which of these components contributed most to the beneficial effects observed, our synthesis indicates the following to be promising policies and strategies:·         school curriculum that includes healthy eating, physical activity and body image·         increased sessions for physical activity and the development of fundamental movement skills throughout the school week·         improvements in nutritional quality of the food supply in schools·         environments and cultural practices that support children eating healthier foods and being active throughout each day·         support for teachers and other staff to implement health promotion strategies and activities (e.g. professional development, capacity building activities)·         parent support and home activities that encourage children to be more active, eat more nutritious foods and spend less time in screen based activitiesHowever, study and evaluation designs need to be strengthened, and reporting extended to capture process and implementation factors, outcomes in relation to measures of equity, longer term outcomes, potential harms and costs.Childhood obesity prevention research must now move towards identifying how effective intervention components can be embedded within health, education and care systems and achieve long term sustainable impacts.  
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              Severe obesity in children and adolescents: identification, associated health risks, and treatment approaches: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association.

              Severe obesity afflicts between 4% and 6% of all youth in the United States, and the prevalence is increasing. Despite the serious immediate and long-term cardiovascular, metabolic, and other health consequences of severe pediatric obesity, current treatments are limited in effectiveness and lack widespread availability. Lifestyle modification/behavior-based treatment interventions in youth with severe obesity have demonstrated modest improvement in body mass index status, but participants have generally remained severely obese and often regained weight after the conclusion of the treatment programs. The role of medical management is minimal, because only 1 medication is currently approved for the treatment of obesity in adolescents. Bariatric surgery has generally been effective in reducing body mass index and improving cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors; however, reports of long-term outcomes are few, many youth with severe obesity do not qualify for surgery, and access is limited by lack of insurance coverage. To begin to address these challenges, the purposes of this scientific statement are to (1) provide justification for and recommend a standardized definition of severe obesity in children and adolescents; (2) raise awareness of this serious and growing problem by summarizing the current literature in this area in terms of the epidemiology and trends, associated health risks (immediate and long-term), and challenges and shortcomings of currently available treatment options; and (3) highlight areas in need of future research. Innovative behavior-based treatment, minimally invasive procedures, and medications currently under development all need to be evaluated for their efficacy and safety in this group of patients with high medical and psychosocial risks.

                Author and article information

                Cochrane Database Syst Rev
                Cochrane Database Syst Rev
                The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
                John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK )
                22 June 2017
                June 2017
                : 2017
                : 6
                : CD012651
                Teesside University deptHealth and Social Care Institute Middlesbrough UK TS1 3BA
                Durham University Queen's Campus deptSchool of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health Durham UK TS17 6BH
                Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick deptDivision of Health Sciences Coventry UK CV4 7AL
                School of Medicine, University of São Paulo deptDepartment of Preventive Medicine São Paulo Brazil CEP 01246 903
                University Medical Centre Groningen deptDepartment of Epidemiology Hanzeplein 1 Groningen Netherlands 9713 GZ
                The University of Sydney deptDepartment of Paediatrics and Child Health Locked Bag 4001 Westmead Australia NSW 2145
                Institute of General Practice, Medical Faculty of the Heinrich‐Heine‐University Düsseldorf deptCochrane Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders Group Moorenstr. 5 Düsseldorf Germany 40225
                The World Health Organization Geneva Switzerland
                Author notes

                Editorial Group: Cochrane Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders Group.

                PMC6481885 PMC6481885 6481885 CD012651 CD012651
                Copyright © 2017 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
                Medicine General & Introductory Medical Sciences

                Overweight/diet therapy,Pediatric Obesity/therapy,Humans,Pediatric Obesity/diet therapy,Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic,Child,Behavior Therapy,Combined Modality Therapy,Overweight/therapy,Body Mass Index,Pediatric Obesity,Quality of Life,Overweight,Exercise


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