Reducing discretionary food and beverage intake in early childhood: A systematic review within an ecological framework

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Objective To systematically review the literature and map published studies on 4-8-year-olds' intake of discretionary choices against an ecological framework (ANalysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity; ANGELO). Design Articles were identified through database searches (PubMed, PyscINFO®, Web of Science) in February and March 2014 and hand-searching reference lists. Studies were assessed for methodological quality and mapped against the ANGELO framework by environment size (macro and micro setting) and type (physical, economic, policy and socio-cultural influences). Setting Studies were conducted in the USA (n 18), Australia (n 6), the UK (n 3), the Netherlands (n 3), Belgium (n 1), Germany (n 1) and Turkey (n 1). Subjects Children aged 4-8 years, or parents/other caregivers. Results Thirty-three studies met the review criteria (observational n 23, interventions n 10). Home was the most frequently studied setting (67 % of exposures/strategies), with the majority of these studies targeting family policy-type influences (e.g. child feeding practices, television regulation). Few studies were undertaken in government (5·5 %) or community (11 %) settings, or examined economic-type influences (0 %). Of the intervention studies only four were categorised as effective. Conclusions The present review is novel in its focus on mapping observational and intervention studies across a range of settings. It highlights the urgent need for high-quality research to inform interventions that directly tackle the factors influencing children's excess intake of discretionary choices. Interventions that assist in optimising a range of environmental influences will enhance the impact of future public health interventions to improve child diet quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1684-1695
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number9
Early online date21 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Added sugar
  • Children
  • Diet quality
  • Discretionary choices
  • Ecological
  • Energy-dense nutrient-poor
  • Environments
  • Review
  • Solid fats
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages


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