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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 123023, 18 pages
Review Article

Need for Early Interventions in the Prevention of Pediatric Overweight: A Review and Upcoming Directions

1Nestlé Nutrition, 12 Vreeland Road, Florham Park, NJ 07932, USA
2Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development, Penn State University, S-211 Henderson South Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA
3Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Colorado Denver, Research Complex 2, Room 5025, 12700 East 19th Avenue, Box C225, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
4Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA
5Obesity Prevention Program, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School, 133 Brookline Avenue, 6th floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 30 December 2011; Accepted 28 February 2012

Academic Editor: Yvon Chagnon

Copyright © 2012 Anne M. Dattilo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Childhood obesity is currently one of the most prevailing and challenging public health issues among industrialized countries and of international priority. The global prevalence of obesity poses such a serious concern that the World Health Organization (WHO) has described it as a “global epidemic.” Recent literature suggests that the genesis of the problem occurs in the first years of life as feeding patterns, dietary habits, and parental feeding practices are established. Obesity prevention evidence points to specific dietary factors, such as the promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate introduction of nutritious complementary foods, but also calls for attention to parental feeding practices, awareness of appropriate responses to infant hunger and satiety cues, physical activity/inactivity behaviors, infant sleep duration, and family meals. Interventions that begin at birth, targeting multiple factors related to healthy growth, have not been adequately studied. Due to the overwhelming importance and global significance of excess weight within pediatric populations, this narrative review was undertaken to summarize factors associated with overweight and obesity among infants and toddlers, with focus on potentially modifiable risk factors beginning at birth, and to address the need for early intervention prevention.