Differential outcome of the IDEFICS intervention in overweight versus non-overweight children: did we achieve ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ prevention?

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Abstract

Background:

The aim of this study was to explore whether the IDEFICS intervention had a differential effect on 11,041 children's weight trajectories depending on their baseline body mass index status.

Methods:

Two subgroups of children are considered in the present analysis: those who were overweight or obese prior to the intervention and those who were neither overweight nor obese.

Results:

Among children in all eight countries who did not have prevalent overweight or obesity (OWOB) at baseline, 2 years later, there was no significant difference between intervention and control groups in risk of having developed OWOB. However, we observed a strong regional heterogeneity, which could be attributed to the presence of one distinctly outlying country, Belgium, where the intervention group had increased risk for becoming overweight. In contrast, among the sample of children with prevalent OWOB at baseline, we observed a significantly greater probability of normalized weight status after 2 years. In other words, a protective effect against persistent OWOB was observed in children in intervention regions compared with controls, which corresponded to an adjusted odds ratio of 0.76 (95% confidence interval: 0.58, 0.98).

Discussion:

This analysis thus provided evidence of a differential effect of the IDEFICS intervention, in which children with overweight may have benefited without having been specifically targeted. However, no overall primary preventive effect could be observed in children without initial overweight or obesity.

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