Effectiveness of universal parental support interventions addressing children's dietary habits, physical activity and bodyweight: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Objectives. The evidence regarding effectiveness of parental support interventions targeting children's health
behaviours is weak.We aimed to review: 1) effectiveness of universal parental support interventions to promote
dietary habits, physical activity (PA) or prevent overweight and obesity among children 2–18 years and 2) effectiveness
in relation to family socio-economic position.
Methods. Thirty five studies from 1990 to 2013 were identified from major databases. Quality was assessed by
four criteria accounting for selection and attrition bias, fidelity to intervention, and outcomemeasurementmethodology,
categorizing studies as strong, moderate or weak.
Results. Four intervention types were identified: face-to-face counselling, group education, information sent
home, and telephone counselling. Face-to-face or telephone counselling was effective in changing children's diet,
while there was only weak evidence for improvement in PA. Sending home information was not effective.
Concerning body weight, group education seemed more promising than counselling. Intervention effectiveness
was generally higher in younger compared to older children. In groups with low socio-economic position, groupbased
approaches appeared promising.
Conclusion. In the future efforts should be made to improve reporting of intervention content, include a power
calculation for themain outcome, the use of high quality outcome assessmentmethodology, and a follow-up period
of at least 6 months.


  • Manzur Kader
  • Elinor Sundblom
  • Liselotte Schäfer Elinder
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Counselling Group education Information Obesity Sedentary behaviour Socioeconomic status
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

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