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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Staff

Publication details for Dr Adetayo Kasim

Hillier-Brown, F.C., Bambra, C.L., Cairns, J.-M., Kasim, A., Moore, H.J. & Summerbell, C.D. (2014). A systematic review of the effectiveness of individual, community and societal level interventions at reducing socioeconomic inequalities in obesity amongst children. BMC Public Health 14: 834.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Background: Tackling childhood obesity is one of the major contemporary public health policy challenges and
vital in terms of addressing socioeconomic health inequalities.
We aimed to systematically review studies of the effectiveness of interventions (individual, community and societal)
operating via different approaches (targeted or universal) in reducing socio-economic inequalities in obesity-related
outcomes amongst children.
Methods: Nine electronic databases were searched from start date to October 2012 along with website and grey
literature searches. The review examined the best available international evidence from interventions that aimed to
prevent obesity, treat obesity, or improve obesity-related behaviours (diet and/or physical activity) amongst children
(aged 0-18 years) in any setting and country, so long as they provided relevant information and analysis on both
socioeconomic status and obesity-related outcomes. Data extraction and quality appraisal were conducted using
established mechanisms and narrative synthesis was conducted.
Results: We located 23 studies that provided the ‘best available’ (strongest methodologically) international
evidence. At the individual level (n = 4), there was indicative evidence that screen time reduction and mentoring
health promotion interventions could be effective in reducing inequalities in obesity. For the community level
interventions (n = 17), evidence was inconclusive - with some studies suggesting that school-based health promotion
activities and community-based group-based programmes were effective in reducing obesity - others not. Societal
level evaluations were few (n = 1). However, there was no evidence to suggest that any of these intervention types
increase inequalities and several studies found that interventions could at least prevent the widening of inequalities
in obesity. The majority of studies were from America and were of 6-12 year old children.
Conclusions: The review has found only limited evidence although some individual and community based
interventions may be effective in reducing socio-economic inequalities in obesity-related outcomes amongst
children but further research is required, particularly of more complex, societal level interventions and amongst
adolescents.