Wilkinson et al., Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Early View 2013
Failure to return to pregnancy weight by 6 months postpartum is associated with long-term obesity, as well as adverse health outcomes. This research evaluated a postpartum weight management programme for women with a body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg m–2 that combined behaviour change principles and a low-intensity delivery format with postpartum nutrition information.
Women were randomised at 24–28 weeks to control (supported care; SC) or intervention (enhanced care; EC) groups, stratified by BMI cohort. At 36 weeks of gestation, SC women received a ‘nutrition for breastfeeding’ resource and EC women received a nutrition assessment and goal-setting session about post-natal nutrition, plus a 6-month correspondence intervention requiring return of self-monitoring sheets. Weight change, anthropometry, diet, physical activity, breastfeeding, fasting glucose and insulin measures were assessed at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum.
Seventy-seven percent (40 EC and 41 SC) of the 105 women approached were recruited; 36 EC and 35 SC women received a programme and 66.7% and 48.6% completed the study, respectively. No significant differences were observed between any outcomes. Median [interquartile range (IQR)] weight change was EC: −1.1 (9.5) kg versus SC: −1.1 (7.5) kg (6 weeks to 6 months) and EC: +1.0 (8.7) kg versus SC: +2.3 (9) kg (prepregnancy to 6 months). Intervention women breastfed for half a month longer than control women (180 versus 164 days; P = 0.10). An average of 2.3 out of six activity sheets per participant was returned.
Despite low intervention engagement, the high retention rate suggests this remains an area of interest to women. Future strategies must facilitate women’s engagement, be individually tailored, and include features that support behaviour change to decrease women’s risk of chronic health issues.