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Open Access Research article

Postpartum behaviour as predictor of weight change from before pregnancy to one year postpartum

Ellen Althuizen1, Mireille NM van Poppel1*, Jeanne H de Vries2, Jacob C Seidell3 and Willem van Mechelen1

Author Affiliations

1 van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

3 De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:165  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-165

Published: 16 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Postpartum weight retention affects many women and increases the risk of becoming overweight. The research objective was to study modifiable factors contributing to weight change at one year postpartum.

Methods

In this prospective cohort, postpartum behavior, such as physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep, and intake of total energy, total fat and saturated fatty acids of 118 Dutch women were assessed in 2003/2004 by self-report at 6 weeks, 6 and 12 months postpartum. Mean postpartum scores were computed for the behavioral measures. In linear regression models it was determined which factors were associated with average weight change from before pregnancy to one year postpartum. Furthermore, factors associated with substantial postpartum weight retention (≥ 5 kg) were also studied in logistic regression models.

Results

At one year postpartum, the average weight of participants had increased by 0.9 kg (SD 4.4). Moreover, 20% of the women retained ≥ 5 kg. Women who perceived themselves more physically active than others were almost ten times less likely to retain ≥ 5 kg than women who perceived themselves equally active (OR = 0.11, 95%CI: 0.02 - 0.66). Exceeding the guideline for saturated fatty acid intake (OR = 3.40, 95%CI: 1.04 - 11.11), total gestational weight gain (OR = 1.14/kg, 95%CI: 1.01 - 1.27), and not having completed post high school education (OR = 5.13, 95%CI: 1.66 - 15.90) increased the odds of retaining ≥ 5 kg.

Conclusions

Since one in five women had substantial weight retention postpartum, effective interventions for the prevention of weight retention are much needed. Future studies should evaluate whether interventions focusing on the identified modifiable postpartum factors are successful in reducing weight retention after childbirth.

Keywords:
body weight change; postpartum; behavior