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Weight loss after pregnancy: challenges and opportunities

  • Michelle C. McKinley (a1) (a2), Virginia Allen-Walker (a1), Caroline McGirr (a1), Ciara Rooney (a1) and Jayne V. Woodside (a1) (a2)...

It is important to pay attention to weight management before and between pregnancies, as women have an increased risk of weight gain during the reproductive years. Having a baby is a life-changing event for women and the challenge of weight management amidst this period of major physiological, psychological and social change should not be underestimated. However, the postpartum period offers an opportune time for lifestyle interventions, as women may have heightened awareness of their own and their wider families’ health. Systematic reviews indicate that interventions including both diet and physical activity along with individualised support and self-monitoring are more likely to be successful in promoting postpartum weight loss. However, high levels of attrition and poor engagement have been an issue in previous trials in this area. Since postpartum women are difficult to reach and retain, future research must consider how to make weight-management interventions an attractive and attainable proposition for women who are juggling multiple, competing demands on their time. Ideally, intervention approaches need to be flexible and allow sustained contact with women, to facilitate a focus on maintenance of weight loss, as well as opportunities for re-engagement after life events that may disrupt weight-management progress. Using technology to deliver or support interventions holds promise but trials are needed to generate a range of appealing, effective and scalable options for postpartum women. What works at other life stages may not necessarily work here owing to specific barriers to weight management encountered in the postpartum period.

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* Corresponding author: Dr Michelle McKinley, fax +44 28 9097 5900, email
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