Published: January 2023

Journal: Obesity Reviews

Authors: Kracht CL, Burkart S, Flanagan EW, Melnick E, Luecking C, Neshteruk C

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Early childhood education (ECE) settings play an important role in child dietary intake and excess weight gain. Policy, systems, and environment (PSE) approaches have potential to reduce disparities in children at higher risk for obesity. The purpose of this review was to (1) characterize the inclusion of populations at higher risk for obesity in ECE interventions and (2) identify effective ECE interventions in these populations. Seven databases were searched for ECE interventions. Intervention characteristics and methodological quality were assessed in 35 articles representing 34 interventions. Interventions identified were mainly a combination of ECE and parent interventions (41%) or stand-alone ECE intervention (29%), with few multisector efforts (23%) or government regulations assessed (5%). Many included policy (70%) or social environment components (61%). For Aim 1, two thirds were conducted in primarily populations at higher risk for obesity (67%). Studies were rated as fair or good methodological quality. For Aim 2, 10 studies demonstrated effectiveness at improving diet or reducing obesity in populations at higher risk for obesity. Most included a longer intervention (i.e., >6 months), multiple PSE components, and formative work. Opportunities to incorporate more PSE components in ECE-based interventions and collaborate with parents and communities are warranted to improve child health.

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