Background: Women of black African heritage living in high income countries (HIC) are at risk of obesity and weight-related complications in pregnancy. This review aimed to synthesize evidence concerning attitudes to weight management-related health behaviors in pregnancy and postpartum, in women of black African ancestry, living in high-income countries. Methods: A systematic review of the literature and thematic evidence synthesis using the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation Behavioral change theoretical model (COM-B). Databases searched included MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Scopus. The CASP tool was used to assess quality. Results: Twenty-four papers met the selection criteria, most of which were from the US. Motivational factors were most commonly described as influencers on behavior. Normative beliefs about “eating for two,” weight gain being good for the baby, the baby itself driving food choice, as well as safety concerns about exercising in pregnancy, were evident and were perpetuated by significant others. These and other social norms, including a cultural acceptance of larger body shapes, and daily fast food, created a challenge for healthy behavior change. Women also had low confidence in their ability to lose weight in the postpartum period. Behavior change techniques, such as provision of social support, use of credible sources, and demonstration may be useful to support change. Conclusions: The women face a range of barriers to engagement in weight-related health behaviors at this life-stage. Using a theoretical behavior change framework can help identify contextual factors that may limit or support behavior change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number637800
Pages (from-to)637800
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021


  • black African
  • Caribbean
  • ethnicity
  • lifestyle
  • postpartum
  • pregnancy
  • weight


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