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Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews.

Childhood obesity: should primary school children be routinely screened? A systematic review and discussion of the evidence

Review published: 2007.

Bibliographic details: Westwood M, Fayter D, Hartley S, Rithalia A, Butler G, Glasziou P, Bland M, Nixon J, Stirk L, Rudolf M.  Childhood obesity: should primary school children be routinely screened? A systematic review and discussion of the evidence. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2007; 92(5): 416-422. [PMC free article: PMC2083728] [PubMed: 17449522]

Quality assessment

This well-conducted review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of population monitoring and screening for overweight and obesity in primary school children. Various methodological and reporting issues made it difficult to assess the reliability and generalisability of the results, but the authors considered the limitations and their conclusions and recommendations are likely to be reliable. Full critical summary

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Population monitoring has been introduced in UK primary schools in an effort to track the growing obesity epidemic. It has been argued that parents should be informed of their child's results, but is there evidence that moving from monitoring to screening would be effective? We describe what is known about the effectiveness of monitoring and screening for overweight and obesity in primary school children and highlight areas where evidence is lacking and research should be prioritised.

DESIGN: Systematic review with discussion of evidence gaps and future research.

DATA SOURCES: Published and unpublished studies (any language) from electronic databases (inception to July 2005), clinical experts, Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities, and reference lists of retrieved studies.

REVIEW METHODS: We included any study that evaluated measures of overweight and obesity as part of a population-level assessment and excluded studies whose primary outcome measure was prevalence.

RESULTS: There were no trials assessing the effectiveness of monitoring or screening for overweight and obesity. Studies focussed on the diagnostic accuracy of measurements. Information on the attitudes of children, parents and health professionals to monitoring was extremely sparse.

CONCLUSIONS: Our review found a lack of data on the potential impact of population monitoring or screening for obesity and more research is indicated. Identification of effective weight reduction strategies for children and clarification of the role of preventative measures are priorities. It is difficult to see how screening to identify individual children can be justified without effective interventions.

CRD has determined that this article meets the DARE scientific quality criteria for a systematic review.

Copyright © 2013 University of York.

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