Get access

Evidence-based recommendations for the development of obesity prevention programs targeted at preschool children


Professor CD Summerbell, Obesity Related Behaviours Group, School of Medicine and Health, Wolfson Research Institute, John Snow College Office, Holliday Building, Durham University Queen's Campus, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH, UK. E-mail:


The ToyBox intervention was developed using an evidence-based approach, using the findings of four reviews. These reviews included three critical and narrative reviews of educational strategies and psychological approaches explaining young children's acquisition and formation of energy-balance related behaviours, and the management of these behaviours, and also a systematic review of behavioural models underpinning school-based interventions in preschool and school settings for the prevention of obesity in children aged 4–6 years.

This paper summarises and translates the findings from these reviews into practical evidence based recommendations for researchers and policy-makers to consider when developing and implementing interventions for the prevention of overweight and obesity in young (aged 4–6 years) children.

The recommendations focus on two behaviours, physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and healthy eating, and include general recommendations, intervention approaches, interventions content, and simple messages. The review also briefly examines the role that the commercial sector plays in hindering or facilitating attempts to create healthy food environments for children. This paper also recognises that childhood obesity is not an issue for the education sector alone; it needs to be tackled at a multi sectoral level, recognizing the particularly important role of local governments, nongovernment organizations and the media.