Certain interventions were more successful than others in improving obesity-related outcomes, according to a recent review published in Obesity Reviews

A research team from Drexel University School of Public Health examined the use of natural- or quasi-experiments to evaluate the efficacy of policy and built environment changes on obesity-related outcomes (eg, BMI, diet or physical activity) from 2005–2013. They reviewed a total of 1,175 abstracts and 115 papers; 37 studies were included in the final review. 

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Changes with strong impacts included:

  • Trans-fat bans
  • Sugary food and beverage availability limits
  • Higher-fat food availability limits
  • Active transportation infrastructure improvements
  • Changes studied after longer-term follow-up periods

Changes with smaller or no impacts included: 

More research was needed to assess physical activity effects for the following built environment changes: 

  • Park improvements
  • Trails
  • Active transportation infrastructure 

Because only some studies directly evaluated the impact on BMI or weight, authors noted that evidence is lacking on whether the environmental and policy modifications have been successful in maintaining healthy weight or reducing excess weight. Additional natural experiments are needed to study whether change or repeated exposure to the changed condition increases or decreases the effect on obesity-related outcomes, study authors conclude.

For more information visit Drexel.edu.