Examining the state of the science of prevention of childhood obesity

Leslie A. Lytle, Mary O. Hearst

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Multiple review articles have been published summarizing the evidence base for approaches to prevent childhood obesity. Literature reviews provide summaries of new knowledge from the empirical research as well as provide evidence for the state of the science. The purpose of this paper is to examine the state of the science of preventing childhood obesity by critiquing recently published review articles. We examine nine review articles published between 2000-2006 with stated purposes of reviewing primary prevention of childhood obesity. First, each review was examined for number of articles included, publication dates, inclusion/exclusion criteria, dependent variables, intervention channels and conclusions. Second, articles that were included in at least five of the reviews we describe study details and assess the articles for their scientific rigor. In general, the reviews indicated inconclusive evidence regarding effective youthcentered obesity prevention interventions, although several reviews offered 'best practices'. Only nine articles, out of 152, were included in at least five reviews and only four of the nine articles met six of seven criteria for rigor. There is little evidence of effective youth-centered obesity prevention interventions and the state of the science is lacking in rigor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-148
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Nutrition and Food Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Children and adolescent
  • Literature reviews
  • Obesity prevention


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