Community-based interventions to reduce overweight and obesity in China: a systematic review of the Chinese and English literature

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Overweight and obesity pose a challenge to public health in China. According to Chinese definition, 303 million Chinese are overweight (body mass index, BMI ≥ 24 kg m−2). Among them, 73 million are clinically obese (BMI ≥ 28 kg m−2). In line with the global trend, the rate of obesity in China continues to increase, with associated morbidity and mortality. This study was to identify interventions, which are effective in Mainland Chinese society.


All non-drug-controlled interventions (≥3 months) in Mainland China, which used anthropometric outcome measures, were selected from three Chinese and nine international electronic databases (before May 2006) and included in this systematic review.


A total of 20 studies met the selection criteria and were included in the review. Among them only one was published in an international journal. Most studies combined at least physical activity, dietary intervention and health education. Seventeen studies (85%) reported significant effects in anthropometric measurement outcomes.


Comprehensive interventions with at least physical activity, dietary intervention and health education may be effective in reducing obesity in Chinese children. The role of grandparents as carers in the one-child society is worth considering further. Current evidence of effective interventions for adults is limited. Publication bias in Chinese databases should be taken into account.

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