The IDEFICS intervention trial to prevent childhood obesity: design and study methods

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One of the major research dimensions of the Identification and prevention of Dietary- and lifestyle-induced health EFfects In Children and infantS (IDEFICS) study involved the development, implementation and evaluation of a setting-based community-oriented intervention programme for primary prevention of childhood obesity. In this supplement of Obesity Reviews, a compilation of key results of the IDEFICS intervention is packaged in a series of complementary papers.


This paper describes the overall design and methods of the IDEFICS intervention in order to facilitate a comprehensive reading of the supplement. In addition, some ‘best practice’ examples are described.


The IDEFICS intervention trial was conducted to assess whether the IDEFICS intervention prevented obesity in young children aged 2 to 9.9 years. The study was a non-randomized, quasi-experimental trial with one intervention matched to one control region in each of eight participating countries. The intervention was designed following the intervention mapping framework, using a socio-ecological theoretical approach. The intervention was designed to address several key obesity-related behaviours in children, parents, schools and community actors; the primary outcome was the prevalence of overweight/obesity according to the IOTF criteria based on body mass index. The aim was to achieve a reduction of overweight/obesity prevalence in the intervention regions. The intervention was delivered in school and community settings over a 2-year period. Data were collected in the intervention and control cohort regions at baseline and 2 years later.


This paper offers an introductory framework for a comprehensive reading of this supplement on IDEFICS intervention key results.

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