Background: Although early childhood obesity prevention has become an important issue internationally, little evidence exists regarding longer term effects (i.e., sustainability) of early interventions. Objective: To determine whether intervention benefits at 2 years of age were sustained at 3.5 and 5 years. Methods: Follow-up of the Early Prevention of Obesity in Children (EPOCH) individual participant data prospective meta-analysis of four randomized controlled trials including 2196 mother–child dyads at baseline. Interventions were home- or community-based, commenced within 6 months of birth, ended by 2 years of age, and comprised multiple sessions. Controls received standard care. BMI z-score (primary outcome), other anthropometric measures and weight-related behaviours were initially measured at 1.5–2 years and followed up at 3.5 and 5 years. Results: Positive intervention effects on BMI z-scores at 1.5–2 years of age were not apparent by 3.5 years (−0.04 adjusted mean difference; 95% CI:−0.14, 0.06; p = 0.424), and 5 years (0.03; 95% CI: −0.08, 0.14; p = 0.60). While prolonged intervention benefits were detected for a few, but not the majority of, weight-related behaviours at 3.5 years, these effects diminished over time. Conclusion: This meta-analysis found that initial positive effects of childhood obesity interventions faded out after interventions ended, pointing toward the importance of a suite of interventions implemented at multiple stages across childhood.
- childhood obesity
- early intervention
- individual participant data
- prospective meta-analysis
- sustainability of intervention effects