Obesogenic environments: environmental approaches to obesity prevention

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2015 May;28(5-6):485-95. doi: 10.1515/jpem-2015-0127.


Childhood obesity is a major concern for public health. There are multiple factors (e.g., genetic, social, and environmental) that contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Drawing from findings on "obesogenic environments" and core principles of preventive strategies to reduce health inequalities, this paper gives an overview of recent childhood prevention programs that target aspects of the physical environment ("environmental changes"). Out of the ten reviews we screened (including more than 300 studies), we identified very few that addressed aspects of the environment. We focus here on 14 programs that follow different approaches to environmental changes (e.g., access to/quality of playgrounds, changes in school cafeterias). Altering the environment offers opportunities for healthier behaviors and seems to be an effective strategy to prevent childhood obesity. However, the evaluation of those (mostly) multidimensional interventions does not allow drawing firm conclusions about the single effect of environmental changes. We conclude that obesity prevention programs should combine person-based and environmental approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Socioeconomic Factors