Prevention of overweight and obesity in preschool children: an updated review

Satyanarayana G. Konda, Purushottam A. Giri, Anjali S. Otiv


An increasing number of children are becoming overweight and obese. Overweight and obesity are arbitrarily defined as excess adipose tissue in the body. Although many risk factors for overweight and obesity have been identified for school-age children, less is known for preschool children. Prevention of overweight and obesity in preschool children is an international public health priority given the significant impact of obesity on acute and chronic diseases, general health, development and well-being. This review was performed to study determinants and risk factors for overweight and obesity development in early age, effectiveness of preventive strategies in preschool children and outcome measurements of intervention programme in preschool children.


Preschool children, Overweight, Obesity, Prevention

Full Text:



Yu Z, Han S, Chu J, et al. Trends in Overweight and Obesity among Children and Adolescents in China from 1981 to 2010: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51949.

Olstad DL and Mccargar L. Prevention of overweight and obesity in children under the age of 6 years. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009;34(4):551-70.

Ogden C, Carroll M, Kit B and Flegal K. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. J Am Med Assoc. 2012;307:483-90.

Department of Health. National child measurement programme: England, 2009/10 school year. In: Department of Health, eds. Department of Health. London: The Health and Social Care Information Centre; 2010: 3-62.

Elder JP, Crespo NC, Corder K et al. Childhood obesity prevention and control in city recreation centres and family homes: the MOVE/me Muevo Project. Pediatr Obes. 2013;1-14

Harsha kumar HN, Mohanan P, Kotian S et al. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among pre-school children in semi urban south India. Indian Pediatr. 2008;45:497-9.

Gardner DS, Hosking J, Metcalf BS et al. Contribution of early weight gain to childhood overweight and metabolic health: a longitudinal study (EarlyBird 36). Pediatr. 2009;123:e67-73.

Xin-Nan Zong and Hui Li. Secular trends in prevalence and risk factors of obesity in infants and preschool children in 9 Chinese cities, 1986-2006. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46942.

Xu SC and Song LP. Behaviour problems of children with simple obesity. Chin Ment Health J. 2005;19:588.

Skinner AC, Steiner MJ, Henderson FW, Perrin EM. Multiple markers of inflammation and weight status: cross-sectional analyses throughout childhood. Pediatr. 2010;125:e801-9.

Caleyachetty A, Ghattu KV, Sargoor VR et al. Breastfeeding duration, age of starting solids and high BMI risk and adiposity in Indian children. Matern Child Nutr. 2013;9:199-216.

G Flores and H Lin. Factors predicting severe childhood obesity in kindergarteners. Int J Obes. 2013;37:31-9.

Barker DJP. Fetal origins of coronary heart disease. Br Med J. 1995;311:171-4.

Zhou L, He G, Zhang J et al. Risk factors of obesity in preschool children in an urban area in China. Eur J Pediatr. 2011;170:1401-6.

Heppe D, de Jong JK, Durmuş B et al. Parental, fetal, and infant risk factors for preschool overweight: the Generation R Study. Pediatr Res. 2013;73(1):120-7.

Manios Y, Kourlaba G, Kondaki K et al. Obesity and television watching in pre-schoolers in Greece: the genesis study. Obes. 2009;17:2047-53.

O’ B rien M, Nader PR, Houts RM et al. The ecology of childhood overweight: a 12-year longitudinal analysis. Int J Obes. 2007;31:1469-78.

Dubois L, Girard M. Early determinants of overweight at 4.5 years in a population-based longitudinal study. Int J Obes. 2006;30:610-7.

Jiang J, Rosenqvist U, Wang H et al. Risk factors for overweight in 2 to 6-year-old children in Beijing, China. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2006;1(2):103-8.

Dev DA, McBride BA, Fiese BH et al. Risk factors for overweight/obesity in preschool children: an ecological approach. Childhood Obes. 2013;9(5):399-408.

Gilmar M, de Jesus, Graciete O et al. Determinants of overweight in children under 4 years of age. J Pediatr. 2010;86(4):311-6.

Yao N and Hillemeier MM. Weight status in Chinese children: maternal perceptions and child self-assessments. World J Pediatr. 2012;8(2):129-35.

Weir LA, Etelson D and Brand DA. Parents’ perceptions of neighbourhood safety and children’s physical activity. Prev Med. 2006;43:212-7.

Burdette HL and Whitaker RC. A national study of neighborhood safety, outdoor play, television viewing, and obesity in preschool children. Pediatr. 2005;116:657-62.

Thongbai W, Fongkaew W, Kennedy CM et al. Risk factors contributing to overweight among preschool children. Pacific Rim Int J Nurs Res. 2011;15(1):13-27.

Jouret B, Ahluwalai N, Cristini C et al. Factors associated with overweight in pre-school age children in south-western France. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1643-9.

Duke RE, Bryson S, Hammer LD et al. The relationship between parental factors at infancy and parent-reported control over children’s eating at age 7. Appetite. 2004;43:247-52.

Pulsus Group. Promoting optimal monitoring of child growth in Canada: using the new World Health Organization growth charts-executive summary. Paediatr Child Health. 2010;15(2):77-9.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Committee on Nutrition. Prevention of pediatric overweight and obesity. Pediatr. 2007;119(2):405.

McCormick DP, Sarpong K, Jordan L et al. Infant obesity: are we ready to make this diagnosis? J Pediatr. 2010;157:15-9.

Kaphingst KM, Story M. Child care as an untapped setting for obesity prevention: state child care licensing regulations related to nutrition, physical activity, and media use for preschool-aged children in the United States. Prev Chronic Dis. 2009;6(1):A11.

Waters E, de Silva-Sanigorski A, Burford BJ et al. Interventions for preventing obesity in children (Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(12): CD001871.

Lavelle HV, Mackay DF and Pell JP. Systematic review and meta-analysis of school-based interventions to reduce body mass index. J Pub Health (Oxf). 2012;34:360-9.

Fitzgibbon M, Stolley MR, Van Horn L et al. Two-year follow-up results for Hip-Hop to Health Jr: a randomized controlled trial for overweight prevention in preschool minority children. J Pediatr. 2005;146:618-25.

Herman A, Nelson B, Teutsch C et al. Eat Healthy, Stay Active: a coordinated intervention to improve nutrition and physical activity among head start parents, staff, and children. Am J Health Promot. 2012;27(1):e27-36.

Cawley J. Markets and childhood obesity policy. Future Child. 2006;16(1):69-87.

Saunders KL. Preventing obesity in pre-school children: a literature review. J Pub Health. 2007;29:368-75.

Campbell KJ, Hesketh KD. Strategies which aim to positively impact on weight, physical activity, diet and sedentary behaviours in children from zero to five years. A systematic review of the literature. Obes Rev. 2007;8:327-38.

Taylor RW, McAuley KA, Barbezat W et al. APPLE project: 2-y findings of a community-based obesity prevention program in primary school-age children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86:735-42.

Epstein LH, Roemmich JN, Robinson JL et al. A randomized trial of the effects of reducing television viewing and computer use on body mass index in young children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162:239-45.

Haines J, McDonald J, O’Brien A et al. Healthy habits, happy homes: randomized trial to improve household routines for obesity prevention among preschool-aged children. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(11):1072-9.

Hakanen M, Langstrom H, Kaitosaari T et al. Development of overweight in an atherosclerosis preventions trial starting in early childhood. The STRIP study. Int J Obes. 2006;30:618-26.

Alkon A, Crowley AA, Neelon SE et al. Nutrition and physical activity randomized control trial in child care centers improves knowledge, policies, and children's body mass index. BMC Pub Health. 2014;14:215.

Reilly JJ, Kelly L, Montgomery C et al. Physical activity to prevent obesity in young children: cluster randomised controlled trial. Br Med J. 2006;333:1041.

Winter S and Sass D. Healthy & ready to learn: examining the efficacy of an early approach to obesity prevention and school readiness. J Res Child Educ. 2011;25:304-25.

Monasta L, Batty GD, Macaluso A et al. Interventions for the prevention of overweight and obesity in preschool children: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. 2011;12:e107-18.

Wake M, Baur LA, Gerner B et al. Outcomes and costs of primary care surveillance and intervention for overweight or obese children: the LEAP 2 randomized controlled trial. Br Med J. 2009;339:b3308.