This review assessed the effectiveness of pre-school- and school-based obesity prevention and/or treatment interventions targeting healthy eating, physical activity or obesity in African American children and adolescents. Systematic searches were conducted for English-printed research articles published between January 1980 and March 2013. Retained articles included experimental studies conducted in the United States that targeted >80% African American/black children and adolescents and/or studies whose results were stratified by race/ethnicity, and that were conducted in pre-schools/head start or schools (excluding after-school programmes). Of the 12,270 articles identified, 17 met the inclusion criteria (pre-school, n=2; elementary school, n=7; middle and secondary schools, n=8). Thirteen studies found significant improvements in nutrition (pre-school, n=1; elementary, n=7; secondary, n=5) and three found significant improvements in physical activity (pre-school, n=1; elementary, n=2) variables of interest. Two studies (pre-school, n=1; secondary, n=1) reported significant reductions in obesity in African American children. The evidence available suggests school-based interventions are effective in promoting healthy nutrition behaviours in African American children. Conclusions overall and, particularly, about effects on physical activity and obesity are limited due to the small number of studies, differences in assessment approaches and a lack of follow-up assessments.