Interventions for Childhood Obesity in the First 1,000 Days A Systematic Review

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jun;50(6):780-789. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.11.010. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Context: The "first 1,000 days"-conception through age 24 months-are critical for the development and prevention of childhood obesity. This study systematically reviews existing and ongoing interventions during this period, identifies gaps in current research, and discusses conceptual frameworks and opportunities for future interventions.

Evidence acquisition: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and were searched to identify completed and ongoing interventions implemented during pregnancy through age 24 months that aimed to prevent overweight/obesity between ages 6 months and 18 years. English-language, controlled interventions published between January 1, 1980 and December 12, 2014, were analyzed between December 13, 2014 and March 15, 2015.

Evidence synthesis: Of 34 completed studies from 26 unique identified interventions, nine were effective. Effective interventions focused on individual- or family-level behavior changes through home visits, individual counseling or group sessions in clinical settings, a combination of home and group visits in a community setting, and using hydrolyzed protein formula. Protein-enriched formula increased childhood obesity risk. Forty-seven ongoing interventions were identified. Across completed and ongoing interventions, the majority target individual- or family-level changes, many are conducted in clinical settings, and few target early-life systems and policies that may impact childhood obesity.

Conclusions: Obesity interventions may have the greatest preventive effect if begun early in life. Yet, few effective interventions in the first 1,000 days exist, and many target individual-level behaviors of parents and infants. Interventions that operate at systems levels and are grounded in salient conceptual frameworks hold promise for improving future models of early-life obesity prevention.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parents
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors