What works in community-based interventions promoting physical activity and healthy eating? A review of reviews

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 May 30;11(6):5866-88. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110605866.


Chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes, are on the rise worldwide. There is consistent evidence that physical activity and healthy eating are important lifestyle factors which affect the risk for chronic diseases. Community-based interventions are of particular public health interest as they reach target groups in their natural living environment and may thus achieve high population-level impacts. We conducted a systematic literature search to assess the effectiveness of community-based interventions to promote physical activity and healthy eating. Specifically, we searched for promising intervention strategies in this setting. We narratively summarized the results of 18 systematic reviews. Among children and adolescents, we found moderate evidence for effects on weight change in primary school-aged children for interventions containing a school component. The evidence for interventions aimed at general adult populations was inconclusive. Self-monitoring, group-based components, and motivational signs to encourage stair use were identified as promising strategies to increase physical activity. Among adults at risk for type II diabetes, evidence was found for beneficial effects on weight change and diabetes incidence. However, interventions for this group were not integrated in more comprehensive community-based approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Community Networks*
  • Diet*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation
  • Young Adult