Effectiveness of programs aimed at obesity prevention among Indigenous children: A systematic review
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Given the significant health burden of childhood obesity, it is imperative that effective programs be better understood. When evaluating obesity prevention efforts, one must recognize the contextual factors which drive the disproportionate risk of obesity between populations. This systematic review sought to understand if programs aimed at obesity prevention and/or the promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviours for Indigenous children are effective. We conducted a search using Medline, EMBASE, PsychINFO, ERIC, CINAHL and iPORTAL databases from inception to August 13, 2019. We included experimental and quasi-experimental studies. The main outcomes of interest were change in anthropometrics, nutrition or physical activity. Our narrative synthesis included an assessment of study quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality assessment tool. A total of 34 studies met selection criteria. Most studies used a quasi-experimental design (n = 25) and were assessed as low to moderate quality (n = 32). Three studies showed a significant change in anthropometric measures, 14 studies demonstrated at least one significant nutrition-related behaviour or dietary-pattern change, and six studies demonstrated a significant impact on physical activity. This systematic review of programs to prevent obesity among Indigenous children finds a limited impact on anthropometric measurements. Future studies must prioritize Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing to lead all phases of development, implementation, and evaluation of programs.