- For reducing obesity risk in children, physical activity (PA) interventions alone do not seem to be sufficient in children ages 0-5 years but might work in older children.
Why this matters
- Childhood obesity prevention remains a global public health target.
- In 16 randomized controlled trials (RCTs; n=6261), diet+PA bested control for BMI reductions in children ages 0-5 years, with a mean difference (MD) of −0.07 (95% CI, −0.14 to −0.01) kg/m2.
- BMI z-score difference was similar in 11 RCTs (n=5536): MD, −0.11 (95% CI, −0.21 to 0.01).
- Neither had an effect when used alone.
- All moderate-certainty evidences.
- For older children (6-12, 13-18 years), PA interventions were effective in reducing BMI, although with limited effect on BMI z-scores (moderate certainty).
- Diet alone was not effective (high certainty), but diet+PA showed some potential for effective BMI reduction in these age groups (low certainty).
- Adverse effects were not detected, and neither were increases in health disparities in the few studies addressing these factors.
- Cochrane review, meta-analysis of 153 RCTs from different regions (mostly USA, Europe).
- Funding: WHO; National Institute for Health Research Collaboration, the UK, many others.
- The limitations are those of the included studies.