Prevention of child obesity is an international public health priority and believed to be effective when started in early childhood. Caregivers often ask for an early and structured response from health professionals when their child is identified with overweight, yet cost-effective interventions for children aged 2–6 years and their caregivers in Child Health Services are lacking.

To evaluate the effects and cost-effectiveness of a child-centered health dialogue in the Child Health Services in Sweden on 4-year-old children with normal weight and overweight.

Thirty-seven Child Health Centers were randomly assigned to deliver intervention or usual care. The primary outcome was zBMI-change.

A total of 4598 children with normal weight (zBMI: 0.1 [SD = 0.6] and 490 children with overweight (zBMI: 1.6 [SD = 0.3]) (mean age: 4.1 years [SD = 0.1]; 49% females) were included. At follow-up, at a mean age of 5.1 years [SD = 0.1], there was no intervention effect on zBMI-change for children with normal weight. Children with overweight in the control group increased zBMI by 0.01 ± 0.50, while children in the intervention group decreased zBMI by 0.08 ± 0.52. The intervention effect on zBMI-change for children with overweight was –0.11, with a 95% confidence interval of –0.24 to 0.01 (p = 0.07). The estimated additional costs of the Child-Centered Health Dialogue for children with overweight were 167 euros per child with overweight and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was 183 euros per 0.1 zBMI unit prevented.

This low-intensive multicomponent child-centered intervention for the primary prevention of child obesity did not show statistical significant effects on zBMI, but is suggested to be cost-effective with the potential to be implemented universally in the Child Health Services. Future studies should investigate the impact of socio-economic factors in universally implemented obesity prevention programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-90
JournalObesity Science Practice
Issue number1
Early online date2021 Jul 28
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


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