Effective Weight Loss for Children: A Meta-analysis of Intervention Studies 2002–2015

Julia A. Snethen, Marion E. Broome, Pamela Treisman, Erica Castro, Sheryl T. Kelber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: Investigators have implemented a variety of strategies for managing and treating childhood overweight and obesity over the past decade, yet the high prevalence of childhood overweight or obesity remains. The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of childhood overweight or obesity interventions addressing weight loss from 2002–September 2015. Methods: The population focused on in this review were children who were overweight. The treatment group interventions focused on weight loss for overweight children, and included dietary, physical activity, life style changes, or a combination of treatments. Control groups received no treatment other than what they would usually receive in their normal daily lives including standard healthcare assessments. Outcomes for the studies were focused on whether the overweight children in the treatment groups lost weight. Results: The criteria for the meta-analysis were met by 16 intervention studies, with a total of 19 outcomes reported within those studies. Two thousand, three hundred and seventeen participants ranged from 6 to 15 years of age with a mean age of 12 years or less. The majority of the 16 studies were conducted outside the United States (n = 13), with half reporting data on the cost of running the programming (n = 8) and were overwhelmingly conducted by interdisciplinary teams without nurses as members of the team (n = 13). The M effect was g =.732, p <.001 with a 95% confidence interval of 0.351 to 1.113, with quality scores ranging from 20 to 29 out of a possible 41. The heterogeneity analyses overall Q score was 378, an I-squared of 95, with a fail-safe N of 415. Linking Evidence to Action: Diverse interventions included in this meta-analysis had a significant positive effect on weight loss in overweight children. Future research needs to focus on the role of the nurse in ensuring development and translation of the effective interventions in real world settings, at a scale that would move beyond small segments of the affected populations of overweight children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-302
Number of pages9
JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Childhood overweight and obesity
  • meta-analysis
  • weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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