Evidence of effectiveness : high level synthesis of research to prevent obesity and increase physical activity in children

Baker, Philip (2013) Evidence of effectiveness : high level synthesis of research to prevent obesity and increase physical activity in children. In 7th National Public Health Conference 2013 Public-Private Partnership towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage, 11-13 November 2013, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.



Prevention of childhood obesity is a public health priority for Malaysia and many other countries. Physical activity for children is also decreasing at an alarming rate. Both conditions are associated with non-communicable diseases and with significant morbidity and mortality in later life. Systematic reviews of public health interventions provide a useful summary to inform public health practice by combining the results of a range of research studies on a specific intervention into a single report. Systematic reviews are deemed most valuable for health program development and evidence based practice. Unfortunately, many policy makers and practitioners are simply unaware of the evidence: which strategies which are most likely to provide benefit; and which strategies are known to be harmful or useless.

This presentation provides a “birds eye” overview based upon recent (since 2007 to present) high quality systematic reviews of public health interventions.


HealthEvidece.org and the Cochrane Library were searched for systematic reviews which evaluated interventions targeting obesity prevention and increasing physical activity for children. The findings of the included reviews were themed and summarized.


Seven reviews were identified addressing obesity in the early years, and fifteen reviews addressing obesity more broadly in childhood. Additional reviews were identified aimed at increasing physical activity. The synthesis shows several strategies to be effective, however many popular strategies clearly are not. Several of the reviews were inconclusive due to an absence of robust primary studies. Amongst the findings, interventions undertaken in the school setting appear very promising.


There is significant evidence from systematic reviews to guide public health practice and policy, and to inform future research.

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ID Code: 69876
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: physical activity, obesity, systematic reviews, children, evidence based public health
ISSN: 1675-0306
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 07 Apr 2014 01:35
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 05:17

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