A developmental cascade perspective of paediatric obesity: A systematic review of preventive interventions from infancy through late adolescence

Sara M. St. George, Yaray Agosto, Lourdes M. Rojas, Mary Soares, Monica Bahamon, Guillermo Prado, Justin D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The goals of this systematic review were to identify and describe paediatric obesity prevention interventions from infancy to late adolescence and to provide recommendations for future intervention research in light of a recently proposed developmental cascade (DC) model of paediatric obesity. We conducted an electronic search of randomized controlled trials with a minimum 6-month postintervention follow-up published between 1995 and 2019. We included 74 interventions: prenatal/infancy (n = 4), early childhood (n = 11), childhood (n = 38), early to mid-adolescence (n = 18), and late adolescence (n = 3). Infancy and early childhood trials targeted early feeding and positive parenting skills. Half of the childhood and adolescence trials were school based and used universal prevention strategies; those classified as selective or indicated prevention tended to involve the family for more intensive lifestyle modification. Less than 10% of studies followed participants over long periods of time (greater than or equal to 5 years), and only 16% and 31% of studies assessed intervention mediators and moderators, respectively. We recommend that future interventions focus on early prevention, assess long-term intervention effects, use a standardized taxonomy for defining intervention behavioural strategies, assess underlying mechanisms of action and intervention moderators, target parent and family management strategies across development, and increase scientific equity. We also provide specific recommendations regarding intervention targets for each developmental stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalObesity Reviews
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • cascade
  • development
  • paediatric obesity
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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