Mobile health interventions addressing childhood and adolescent obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe: current landscape and potential for future research

SOURCE: Frontiers in Public Health
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): P.Reddy, N.Dukhi, R.Sewpaul, M.A.A.Ellahebokus, N.S.Kambaran, W.Jobe
DEPARTMENT: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 11932
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/15949

Download this report

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at


Child and adolescent overweight is a growing public health problem globally. Europe and low and middle-income (LMIC) countries in Sub-Saharan Africa provide sufficiently suitable populations to learn from with respect to the potential for mobile health (mHealth) interventions in this area of research. The aim of this paper is to identify mHealth interventions on prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa and Sweden and report on their effects, in order to inform future research in this area. A search of peer-reviewed publications was performed using PubMed, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, and Scopus. The search included all articles published up to August 2019. The search strings consisted of MeSH terms related to mHealth, overweight or obesity, children, adolescents or youth and individual countries in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. Second, a combination of free-text words; mobile phone, physical activity, exercise, diet, weight, BMI, and healthy eating was also used. Seven studies were reported from Europe and no eligible studies from Sub-Saharan Africa. The results of this narrative review indicate a lack of research in the development and testing of mHealth interventions for childhood and adolescent obesity. There is a need for an evidence base of mHealth interventions that are both relevant and appropriate in order to stem the epidemic of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents in these countries. Uptake of such interventions is likely to be high as there is high penetrance of mobile phone technology amongst adolescents, even within poor communities in Africa.