November 10, 2014
1 min read

Early childhood obesity prevention not sustained without further intervention

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Home visits in the first 2 years of life can improve childhood BMI; however, the effects may not be sustained without further intervention, according to study findings presented at Obesity Week.

“Researchers in Sydney, Australia, previously found that a program of home visiting by a nurse to first-time new mothers living in a socially disadvantage region led to decreased obesity, and improved eating and activity habits, by the time that child was aged 2 years,” Louise A. Baur, PhD, FRACP, FAHMS, of the University of Sydney, told Endocrine Today. “However, the effect may not be sustained to age 5 years without further intervention.”

Louise Baur

Louise A. Baur

Baur and colleagues conducted a follow-up study to the Healthy Beginnings Trial (HBT), which evaluated the effect of nurse home visits within the first 2 years of life on improvements in BMI. The goal was to see whether effects from the original intervention were sustained to age 3.5 and 5 years. The study included 236 intervention and 229 controls who had been participants in HBT; participants agreed to not receive further intervention. Overall, 369 mother/child pairs completed the study.

The differences of BMI and BMI z scores between the control and intervention groups at 2 years disappeared in time, but the early intervention did not result in significant effects on TV viewing, physical activity or diets.

After adjustment for marital status and mother’s employment status, BMI or BMI z scores at age 2 years were positively associated with BMI at age 5 years (P<.001) or BMI z score at age 5 years (P<.001).

Overall, 17.3% of children were overweight at age 5 years and 4.9% were obese.

“Interventions with pregnant women/new mothers to support breast-feeding and normalize healthy infant/child feeding and activity can improve weight status by age 2 years,” Baur said. “However, this alone won’t prevent obesity in childhood. There needs to be a suite of interventions, acting at different parts of the life cycle — prior to pregnancy, [during] pregnancy, early childhood, mid- and later childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, workers, middle age, etc — that act to prevent obesity.” – by Amber Cox

For more information:

Baur LA. Abstract T-3120OR. Presented at: Obesity Week; Nov. 2-7, 2014; Boston.

Disclosure: This study was funded by the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council and Sydney Local Health District.