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Open Access Highly Accessed Protocol

Tackling inequalities in obesity: a protocol for a systematic review of the effectiveness of public health interventions at reducing socioeconomic inequalities in obesity amongst children

Clare L Bambra1, Frances C Hillier1*, Helen J Moore2 and Carolyn D Summerbell2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Geography, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University Queen's Campus, University Boulevard, Stockton-on-Tees, TS17 6BH, UK

2 Obesity Related Behaviours Research Group, School of Medicine and Health, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University Queen's Campus, University Boulevard, Stockton-on-Tees, TS17 6BH, UK

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Systematic Reviews 2012, 1:16  doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-16

Published: 23 February 2012

Abstract

Background

There is growing evidence of the impact of overweight and obesity on short- and long-term functioning, health and well-being. Internationally, childhood obesity rates continue to rise in some countries (for example, Mexico, India, China and Canada), although there is emerging evidence of a slowing of this increase or a plateauing in some age groups. In most European countries, the United States and Australia, however, socioeconomic inequalities in relation to obesity and risk factors for obesity are widening. Addressing inequalities in obesity, therefore, has a very high profile on the public health and health services agendas. However, there is a lack of accessible policy-ready evidence on what works in terms of interventions to reduce inequalities in obesity.

Methods and design

This article describes the protocol for a National Health Service Trust (NHS) National Institute for Health Research-funded systematic review of public health interventions at the individual, community and societal levels which might reduce socioeconomic inequalities in relation to obesity amongst children ages 0 to 18 years. The studies will be selected only if (1) they included a primary outcome that is a proxy for body fatness and (2) examined differential effects with regard to socioeconomic status (education, income, occupation, social class, deprivation and poverty) or the intervention was targeted specifically at disadvantaged groups (for example, children of the unemployed, lone parents, low income and so on) or at people who live in deprived areas. A rigorous and inclusive international literature search will be conducted for randomised and nonrandomised controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohort studies (with and/or without control groups) and prospective repeat cross-sectional studies (with and/or without control groups). The following electronic databases will be searched: MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Social Science Citation Index, ASSIA, IBSS, Sociological Abstracts and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database. Database searches will be supplemented with website and grey literature searches. No studies will be excluded on the basis of language, country of origin or publication date. Study inclusion, data extraction and quality appraisal will be conducted by two reviewers. Meta-analysis and narrative synthesis will be conducted. The main analysis will examine the effects of (1) individual, (2) community and (3) societal level public health interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in childhood obesity. Interventions will be characterised by their level of action and their approach to tackling inequalities. Contextual information on how such public health interventions are organised, implemented and delivered will also be examined.

Discussion

In this review, we consider public health strategies which reduce and prevent inequalities in the prevalence of childhood obesity, highlight any gaps in the evidence base and seek to establish how such public health interventions are organised, implemented and delivered.

PROSPERO registration number: CRD42011001740