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Medical News & Perspectives
February 1, 2012

Programs to Reduce Childhood Obesity Seem to Work, Say Cochrane Reviewers

JAMA. 2012;307(5):444-445. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.49

Obesity prevention programs for children have produced mixed results that could lead one to wonder if they are effective. A recent review of the literature suggests such programs can work, but an optimal course of action remains elusive.

The authors of a Cochrane Collaboration meta-analysis of 55 studies assessing educational, behavioral, and health promotion interventions in general populations of children aged 0 to 18 years, including children who were obese, found that these interventions reduced the children's body mass index (BMI) by an average of 0.15 kg/m2. In an average child of elementary school age (around 10 years) with a BMI of 18.2 kg/m2, such a reduction would be the equivalent of a 0.8% weight reduction (Waters E et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;12:CD001871).