Educational interventions in childhood obesity: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Prev Med. 2013 May;56(5):254-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.02.024. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of educational interventions including behavioral modification, nutrition and physical activity to prevent or treat childhood obesity through a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.

Method: A search of databases (PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane CENTRAL) and references of published studies (from inception until May 2012) was conducted. Eligible studies were randomized trials enrolling children 6 to 12 years old and assessing the impact of educational interventions during 6 months or longer on waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and lipid profile to prevent or treat childhood obesity. Calculations were performed using a random effects method and pooled-effect estimates were obtained using the final values.

Results: Of 22.852 articles retrieved, 26 trials (23.617 participants) were included. There were no differences in outcomes assessed in prevention studies. However, in treatment studies, educational interventions were associated with a significant reduction in waist circumference [-3.21 cm (95%CI -6.34, -0.07)], BMI [-0.86 kg/m(2) (95%CI -1.59, -0.14)] and diastolic blood pressure [-3.68 mmHg (95%CI -5.48, -1.88)].

Conclusions: Educational interventions are effective in treatment, but not prevention, of childhood obesity and its consequences.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / education
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • School Health Services*