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Lifestyle Interventions in Overweight and Obese Pregnant or Postpartum Women for Postpartum Weight Management: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1704
Issue number11
Accepted/In press3 Nov 2018
Published7 Nov 2018


King's Authors


Excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) and postpartum weight retention (PPWR) may predispose women to the development of obesity. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in overweight or obese pregnant and/or postpartum women for managing postpartum weight up to 2 years after giving birth. Eighteen randomised controlled trials were included (2559 participants) and divided into three categories according to the timing of the intervention: pregnancy only (n = 3), postpartum only (n = 12) and pregnancy and postpartum (n = 3). The intervention duration varied from 10 weeks to 10 months and included diet only (n = 5) or diet and physical activity (n = 13). Seven postpartum only
interventions reported significant improvements in postpartum weight when compared to the control group. Most of these interventions were short and intensive, lasting 10–16 weeks. One pregnancy only and one pregnancy and postpartum intervention reported reduced PPWR at 6 months. Nine trials did not report an effect of the intervention on postpartum weight. However, of these, four reported associations between GWG and PPWR. This review suggests that successful postpartum weight management is achievable with intensive lifestyle interventions starting in the postpartum period; however, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether interventions starting in pregnancy are effective. Larger trials utilising comparative methodologies in the pregnancy and postpartum periods are required to inform the development of targeted strategies preventing PPWR or reducing postpartum weight.

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