UCL Health


Assessing the coverage, uptake and effectiveness of interventions for obesity in the early years

This project will assess the coverage, uptake and effectiveness of individual or community-based interventions and programmes for obesity in the early years: a systematic review.

25 January 2022


In 2019 worldwide there were 38.2 million children under 5 years old living with overweight or obesity. In England, according to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP 2020/21), the prevalence of overweight and obesity among reception-age children is nearly 28%.

Given that obesity tracks strongly through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood, the need to adopt a life-course approach in addressing the obesity problem is well acknowledged. The early years of child’s life (i.e. 0-5 years) represent an important entry point for preventative interventions.


The aim of this review is to explore the effective components, interventions or programmes for obesity prevention and treatment in children aged 0-5 years in the UK and internationally. We also aim to investigate the strength of the evidence base and identify gaps in terms of coverage and uptake for obesity prevention or treatment in the early years.


We will search nine databases and include studies from all countries and languages published the last 10 years (2011-2021). Only intervention studies or randomised controlled trials or studies that have a before and after implementation design will be included. Participants are children aged 0 to 5 years of any weight status (healthy weight, overweight or obese), interventions are any intervention or programme that had diet and/or physical activity component, and the outcomes are anthropometric changes (e.g. weight, BMI z score etc). The findings will be analysed separately: in the UK and elsewhere.   


March 2022


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The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Healthy Weight is part of the NIHR and hosted by UCL.