Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obesity prevention : A systematic review of the evidence regarding efficacy of obesity prevention interventions among adults

This week the journal Obesity Reviews published in e-pub a systematic review of obesity prevention interventions aimed at adults, that I co-authored. Valery Lemmens is first author on this paper ( Obes Rev. 2008 Feb 19 [Epub ahead of print]).
Interventions aimed at reducing obesity have mainly focussed on weight loss among overweight and obese adults. Such weight loss intervention have little long-term effects. A stronger focus on obesity prevention is needed. Our review included scientific papers published on this topic from 1996 up to 2006. The results indicate that systematic interventions aiming to prevent weight gain and obesity are scarce and the current evidence of efficacy of obesity prevention interventions is thus based on a small number of studies. Some studies showed a positive impact on body mass index or weight status, but there was too much heterogeneity in terms of study design, theoretical underpinning and target population to draw firm conclusions about which intervention approaches are more effective than others. More research is urgently needed to extend the body of evidence.

A debate on public radio: nutrition education or environmental change to promote health behaviour? of the Christian Democratic Party on Dutch public radio. I argued that rules and regulations will be necessary for effective obesity prevention policy in order to change the present ‘obesogenic’ environment into a more ‘obesopreventive’ environment. Mister Atsma claimed that health education is the way to go forward. Our research indicates that a health education approach will be insufficient to change people’s nutrition and physical activity behaviours for obesity prevention. Environmental changes are needed to better facilitate healthful nutrition and physical activity behaviours, and to make un-healthful choices less available and accessible. This is also what has been advocated by WHO Europe in their policy to curb the obesity epidemic (see Please visit and link to ‘Radio Kassa 26 Februari to listen to the radio debate.