Early life obesity prevention: critique of intervention trials during the first 1000 days

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Purpose of review - To critique the evidence from recent and ongoing obesity prevention interventions in the first 1000 days in order to identify evidence gaps and weaknesses, and to make suggestions for more informative future intervention trials.
Recent findings - Completed and ongoing intervention trials have had fairly modest effects, have been limited largely to high-income countries, and have used relatively short-term interventions and outcomes. Comparison of the evidence from completed prevention trials with the evidence from systematic reviews of behavioral risk factors shows that some life-course stages have been neglected (pre-conception and toddlerhood), and that interventions have neglected to target some important behavioral risk factors (maternal smoking during pregnancy, infant and child sleep).Finally, while obesity prevention interventions aim to modify body composition, few intervention trials have used body composition measures as outcomes, and this has limited their sensitivity to detect intervention effects. The new WHO Healthy Lifestyles Trajectory (HeLTI) initiative should address some of these weaknesses.
Summary - Future early obesity prevention trials should be much more ambitious. They should, ideally: extend their interventions over the first 1000 days; have longer-term (childhood) outcomes, and improved outcome measures (body composition measures in addition to proxies for body composition such as the BMI for age); have greater emphasis on maternal smoking and child sleep; be global.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
JournalCurrent Obesity Reports
Issue number2
Early online date22 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017


  • early life interventions
  • obesity prevention
  • pediatric obesity
  • infants
  • children
  • review


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