A review of registered randomized controlled trials for the prevention of obesity in infancy

Seema Mihrshahi*, Danielle Jawad, Louise Richards, Kylie E. Hunter, Mahalakshmi Ekambareshwar, Anna Lene Seidler, Louise A. Baur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Childhood overweight and obesity is a worldwide public health issue. Our objective was to describe planned, ongoing and completed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) designed for the prevention of obesity in early childhood. Two databases (World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, ClinicalTrials.gov) were searched to identify RCTs with the primary aim of preventing childhood obesity and at least one outcome related to child weight. Interventions needed to start in the first two years of childhood or earlier, continue for at least 6 months postnatally, include a component related to lifestyle or behaviours, and have a follow up time of at least 2 years. We identified 29 unique RCTs, implemented since 2008, with most being undertaken in high income countries. Interventions ranged from advice on diet, activity, sleep, emotion regulation, and parenting education through to individual home visits, clinic-based consultations, or group education sessions. Eleven trials published data on child weight-related outcomes to date, though most were not sufficiently powered to detect significant effects. Many trials detected improvements in practices such as breastfeeding, screen time, and physical activity in the intervention groups compared to the control groups. Further follow-up of ongoing trials is needed to assess longer-term effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2444
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Behaviours
  • Childhood
  • Infant feeding
  • Interventions
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Prevention

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