Impact of Strategies for Preventing Obesity and Risk Factors for Eating Disorders among Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Nutrients. 2020 Oct 14;12(10):3134. doi: 10.3390/nu12103134.


An effective behavior change program is the first line of prevention for youth obesity. However, effectiveness in prevention of adolescent obesity requires several approaches, with special attention paid to disordered eating behaviors and psychological support, among other environmental factors. The aim of this systematic review is to compare the impact of two types of obesity prevention programs, inclusive of behavior change components, on weight outcomes. "Energy-balance" studies are aimed at reducing calories from high-energy sources and increasing physical activity (PA) levels, while "shared risk factors for obesity and eating disorders" focus on reducing disordered eating behaviors to promote a positive food and eating relationship. A systematic search of ProQuest, PubMed, PsycInfo, SciELO, and Web of Science identified 8825 articles. Thirty-five studies were included in the review, of which 20 regarded "energy-balance" and 15 "shared risk factors for obesity and eating disorders". "Energy-balance" studies were unable to support maintenance weight status, diet, and PA. "Shared risk factors for obesity and eating disorders" programs also did not result in significant differences in weight status over time. However, the majority of "shared risk factors for obesity and eating disorders" studies demonstrated reduced body dissatisfaction, dieting, and weight-control behaviors. Research is needed to examine how a shared risk factor approach can address both obesity and eating disorders.

Keywords: adolescents; eating disorders; obesity; prevention programs; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Body Weight Maintenance
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / prevention & control
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Preventive Health Services*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Risk Factors

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