Effectiveness of school-based interventions for the prevention of obesity in developing countries: a systematic review

Adrian David Wood, Genevieve Tamike Marsh-Feiley, Bryan Dunsmore, Eve R. Fordyce, John Mitchell, William Paine, Jessica Erin Butler

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Obesity in developing nations presents a significant public health challenge. School-based preventative interventions have been highlighted as a feasible approach to tackling obesity in Western countries, but there are limited data from systematic evaluations of similar interventions in resource-poor nations. Therefore we conducted a literature review to explore the effectiveness of school-based interventions for obesity prevention in developing countries. Study eligibility criteria included: populations of school children in developing countries, undergoing a controlled, school-based intervention, with evaluations of change in BMI or BMI z-score, and habitual diet, physical activity, or nutritional knowledge. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Pubmed and the Cochrane Library for trials published in English between 1995 and 2016. All studies were evaluated by at least two reviewers. Twenty-two randomised controlled trials were suitable for full-text screening. Eleven met our inclusion criteria. Five trials (45%) reported significant changes in BMI or BMI z-score (P<0.05) following intervention. Eight trials examined behavioural outcomes (dietary intake, physical activity level, and/or nutritional knowledge) in secondary analyses, with seven (87.5%) reporting significant intervention effects (P<0.05). There was marked heterogeneity across studies and overall quality was highly variable. All publications reported clearly on basic domains of ethical approval, financial support, and informed consent. Eight studies (73%) did not describe randomisation methods, and eight (73%) contained evidence of incomplete reporting. School-based interventions have the potential to attenuate obesity incidence in school-aged children from developing countries. Health education, and dietary and exercise intervention within the school and family setting had significant effects. We propose further evaluation of comprehensive multicomponent interventions on long-term outcomes with robust analysis of mechanisms through which positive effects have been accomplished.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
EventFaculty of Public Health in Scotland Annual Conference 2016 -
Duration: 27 Oct 201627 Oct 2016


ConferenceFaculty of Public Health in Scotland Annual Conference 2016


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