Get access

School-Based Programs Aimed at the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity: Evidence-Based Interventions for Youth in Latin America

Authors


  • This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of San Diego State University and was funded by the CDC 1U48 DP001917. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC.

  • Indicates CHES continuing education hours are available. Also available at http://www.ashaweb.org/continuing_education.html

Address correspondence to: Felipe Lobelo, Epidemiologist, (rlobelo@cdc.gov), Global Health Promotion Office, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS K-40 Atlanta, GA 30341.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Rapidly rising childhood obesity rates constitute a public health priority in Latin America which makes it imperative to develop evidence-based strategies. Schools are a promising setting but to date it is unclear how many school-based obesity interventions have been documented in Latin America and what level of evidence can be gathered from such interventions.

METHODS

We performed a systematic review of papers published between 1965 and December 2010. Interventions were considered eligible if they had a school-based component, were done in Latin America, evaluated an obesity related outcome (body mass index [BMI], weight, %body fat, waist circumference, BMI z-score), and compared youth exposed vs not exposed.

RESULTS

Ten studies were identified as having a school-based component. Most interventions had a sample of normal and overweight children. The most successful interventions focused on prevention rather than treatment, had longer follow-ups, a multidisciplinary team, and fewer limitations in execution. Three prevention and 2 treatment interventions found sufficient improvements in obesity-related outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

We found sufficient evidence to recommend school-based interventions to prevent obesity among youth in Latin America. Evidence-based interventions in the school setting should be promoted as an important component for integrated programs, policies, and monitoring frameworks designed to reverse the childhood obesity in the region.

Ancillary