Background: Over the past decade, childhood obesity has been recognized as an increasing health problem worldwide. It is a predictor of obesity during adulthood, which is strongly linked to chronic lifestyle diseases.
Purpose: This paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based programs in the prevention and management of childhood obesity.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search was undertaken for RCTs and clinical controlled trials on school-based interventions that addressed childhood obesity, published between 1995 and 2007. The papers included for the meta-analysis were those in which ORs or standardized mean differences and their 95% CIs were reported or could be calculated from available data.
Results: Meta-analysis showed that the odds of participants' being overweight and obese in the school-based intervention programs compared with the control arm were significantly protective in the short term (OR=0.74, 95% CI=0.60, 0.92). Interventions that were conducted for more than 1 year had a higher OR of decreasing the prevalence of obesity. However, intervention programs were not effective in decreasing BMI compared with control treatments, with a weighted mean difference of -0.62 (95% CI=-1.39, 0.14).
Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that there was convincing evidence that school-based interventions are effective, at least short-term, in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. Longer-running programs were more effective than shorter programs.