School and family-based interventions for promoting a healthy lifestyle among children and adolescents in Italy: a systematic review

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AimsCardiovascular diseases affect adult population but risk factors develop as a result of known or assumed behavior since childhood. In Italy, up to 22.2% of children are overweight, 10.6% are obese, and 2.5% have severe obesity.MethodsWe performed a systematic review of the literature to identify studies and initiatives addressing health promotion among children in Italy. Given the high heterogeneity of interventions and outcomes assessed we opted to perform a qualitative synthesis of the results. We described also nonrandomized trial where the intervention of primary prevention was very innovative, explained in detail, and reached an improving outcome for participants.ResultsWe identified 11 projects since 1983, only five were randomized control trials. Three involved children and teachers of primary and secondary schools and were based on specific curricular lectures about health. One was based on a game developed for high schools with the purpose to promote healthy lifestyle and physical activity. The fifth project was based on an enhanced physical activity program.ConclusionOur results show that school and family should be considered as the privileged places for health promotion. In Italy, the development of scientific-validated lifestyle interventions for children is still an unmet need.

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