The prevalence of obesity remains high among school age children and continues to rise among adolescents in the United States. One strategy to address this challenge is to use peer rather than professional leaders to run weight management programs. Youth peer-led lifestyle interventions have become increasingly common over the last few decades, but there is a lack of review and synthesis of these programs. The purpose of this manuscript was to critically review and synthesize results and lessons learned from evaluated youth peer-led lifestyle modification and weight management programs. We searched the PubMed/MEDLINE database to identify articles published between March 2002 and December 2015. We identified 29 interventions including children from kindergarten to 12th grade from different settings and racial/ethnic and economic backgrounds. We first summarized descriptive information about the interventions and then compared outcomes based on intervention type, peer leader characteristics and training, and other related factors. Our review indicated that youth peer-led interventions of varying structure and content can result in positive changes in behavioral influences, diet, physical activity, body measures and other clinical outcomes. We used information from our analysis to formulate recommendations for design of future youth peer-led lifestyle interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101871
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • diet
  • health education
  • obesity
  • peer led interventions
  • physical activity
  • youth


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