Attributable Risks for Childhood Overweight: Evidence for Limited Effectiveness of Prevention
OBJECTIVE: Calculation of attributable risks (ARs) of childhood overweight to estimate effectiveness of prevention strategies.
METHODS: We used pooled data of 4 population-based German studies including 34 240 children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years to calculate the impact of familial, social, “early life”, and lifestyle factors on overweight. ARs (joint for all determinants as well as partial risks) were calculated.
RESULTS: The prevalence of childhood overweight was 13.4%. Successfully tackling all determinants can reduce overweight by 77.7% (ie, from 13.4% to 3.0%; = joint AR) with partial effects of treating parental overweight (42.5%); improving social status (14.3%); reducing media time to <1 hour per day (11.4%); and not smoking during pregnancy, low weight gain during pregnancy, and breastfeeding (together 9.5%), respectively. Improving all preventable risk factors (ie, early life factors and lifestyle) the effect is 9.2%. Media time has the strongest effect.
CONCLUSIONS: The determinants identified explained 78% of the prevalence of overweight. Taking into account the partial ARs, the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions to prevent overweight in children is limited. Our data argue in favor of interventions aimed at families and social environments, with a major focus on promoting a lower screen time and computer use in children.
- AR —
- attributable risk
- CI —
- confidence interval
- OR —
- odds ratio
- PreVENT —
- Interdisciplinary Consortium on Obesity Prevention in Children and Adolescents
- Accepted May 31, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics