Types of interventions targeting dietary, physical activity, and weight-related outcomes among university students: a systematic review of systematic reviews
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Belogianni, K. & Baldwin, C. (2019) Types of interventions targeting dietary, physical activity, and weight-related outcomes among university students: a systematic review of systematic reviews. Advances in Nutrition (In Press).
A plethora of studies aiming to improve dietary, physical activity (PA), and weight-related (WR) outcomes among university students have been implemented and summarized in a series of systematic reviews, with unclear conclusions regarding their effectiveness. This overview aims to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies aiming to improve health outcomes in university students, to assess their methodological quality, to identify the different types of interventions used and outcomes assessed, and to estimate their overall effect. Four electronic databases were searched until 19 March, 2018 following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The identified reviews were described and their methodological quality was rated. The studies of reviews were investigated to identify the different types of interventions used and outcomes assessed. Effectiveness was assessed by measuring the overall number of improved outcomes out of the total number of outcomes reported. As a result, 8 reviews were identified targeting food sales (n = 2), dietary (n = 3), PA (n = 1), WR (n = 1), or all outcomes (n = 1). The methodological quality of the reviews was moderate (n = 5) to low (n = 3). In all, the reviews included 122 studies, of which 36 used an environmental, 51 a face-to-face, 30 an e-intervention, and 5 a combined approach. Environmental interventions improved a moderate number of food sales (32 of 61) and dietary intake (22 of 47) outcomes. Face-to-face interventions improved a high number of dietary cognitive outcomes (15 of 18), a moderate number of dietary intake (28 of 65) and WR (11 of 18) outcomes, and a low number of PA behavioral (22 of 69) and cognitive (2 of 14) outcomes. E-interventions improved a high number of dietary cognitive variables (11 of 16) but had a low effect (≤33%) on the other types of outcomes. In conclusion, face-to-face and e-interventions improved cognitive variables toward diet or PA but were less effective in changing actual behaviors. Environmental interventions favorably changed food sales. Face-to-face and e-interventions moderately affected WR outcomes. Future research should focus on long-term studies.