The incidence of adolescents who are overweight or obese has increased dramatically over the past 20 years across the globe, with approximately 34.2 percent of teens now being overweight (i.e., a gender and age-specific body mass index [BMI] at or above the 85th percentile, or obese, which is defined as a gender and age-specific body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile). Being overweight predisposes adolescents to adverse health outcomes compared to their non-overweight counterparts, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, sleep apnea, increased asthma symptoms and a shortened life span. Overweight and obese adolescents, in comparison to normal weight adolescents, also have a higher prevalence of school and mental health problems, including poor academic performance and self-esteem, depressive disorders, and a greater number of reported suicide attempts. Therefore, it is imperative to deliver evidence-based interventions to prevent overweight and obesity in at-risk teens. The purpose of this evidence review was to identify key components of efficacious interventions that prevent overweight and obesity in adolescents.
An evidence review was conducted identifying randomized controlled trials of interventions to prevent overweight and obesity in adolescents.
Multi-component interventions lead to the best outcomes in preventing overweight/obesity in teens, including those that contain cognitive-behavior skills building, nutrition education and physical activity.
It is necessary to translate evidence-based interventions into real world practice settings in order to prevent the growing incidence of overweight and obesity in adolescents. Future research should include randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-up and dissemination/implementation studies in real world clinical and school-based settings.