Systematic Review of General Parenting Intervention Impacts on Child Weight as a Secondary Outcome

Child Obes. 2023 Jul;19(5):293-308. doi: 10.1089/chi.2022.0056. Epub 2022 Aug 4.


General parenting interventions have improved parent-child relationships and child behavior, with emerging evidence that they may also reduce prevalence of pediatric overweight/obesity. We conducted a systematic review on interventions that were designed to promote positive parenting and examined child weight post-hoc. We searched for studies published through January 2022 that promoted positive parenting among parents of children ages 0-18 years and reported effects on body weight as an ancillary outcome, with no intervention content focused on energy balance (e.g., feeding, physical activity). This search was carried out within, ISRCTN Registry, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Connected Papers. Studies were imported into EndNote X9 and assessed independently by two investigators. In total, 753 clinical trials and 723 publications were assessed, and six publications met inclusion criteria. All cohorts were low-income and interventions targeted expectant mothers up through parents of adolescents. Follow-ups occurred when participants were between 2 and 25 years. Significant improvements in weight-related outcomes were observed across all studies for the intervention arm as a whole or for certain subgroups, and reasons underlying these gains tended to differ by participants' age. The magnitude of effect sizes ranged from medium to large. Interventions focused on general positive parenting are efficacious at lowering risk of overweight/obesity without focusing on physical health. Promoting attachments among infants, restructuring a toddler's home environment, praising preschoolers, and communicating with adolescents may optimize weight outcomes in parenting interventions adapted for obesity prevention.

Keywords: childhood obesity; maternal warmth and sensitivity; responsive parenting; self-regulation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Parenting*
  • Parents
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / prevention & control