Effectiveness of school-based interventions

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Obesity in both adult and children is fast becoming one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century in developed and developing countries alike. It is estimated that approximately 10% of school age children. The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is ever on the increase in the UK as in the rest of the world. It is estimated that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among 2 – 10 year old children in the UK rose from 22.7%-27.7% and 9.9%-13.7% respectively between 1995 and 2003; these figures are set to increase unless something is done. School-based interventions offer a possible solution in halting obesity prevalence, because the school setting provides an avenue for reaching out to a high percentage of children (especially in the western world), opportunity for constant monitoring of children and the resources for anti-obesity interventions.


To systematically review the evidence of the impact of school-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity on:

  • Adiposity (primary objective)
  • Knowledge, physical activity levels and diet (secondary objectives)
  • Methods

    The review was done following the Cochrane collaboration guidelines.

    In addition to searching electronic databases, first authors of all included studies were contacted. A recognised critical appraisal tool was used to assess the quality of included studies.


    Three RCTs and one CCT met the inclusion criteria for the review. All four studies had a control and intervention group; with various study limitations.

    While none of the studies found statistically significant BMI changes in intervention groups when compared with control group post-intervention, all of them recorded either a significant change in diet, or an increase in physical activity levels.



    Obesity is generally understood as abnormal accumulation of fat to the extent that presents health risk (Kiess, Marcus et al. 2004), and was added to the international classification of diseases for the first time in 1948 (Kipping, Jago et al. 2008). The worldwide clinical definition of adult obesity by the WHO is body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30kg/m2 (WHO 2006). In children however, because of the significant changes in their BMI with age (Cole, Bellizzi et al. 2000), there is no universally accepted definition of obesity (Parizkova and Hills 2004; Bessesen 2008) and it therefore varies from country-to-country. The most commonly used definition of childhood obesity is the US definition which measures overweight and obesity in a reference population using the cut off points of 85th and 95th centiles of BMI for age (Ogden, Yanovski et al. 2007). In the UK, overweight and obesity are diagnosed using a national reference data from a 1990 BMI survey of British children (Stamatakis, Primatesta et al.

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