The effects of physical activity and physical activity plus diet interventions on body weight in overweight or obese women who are pregnant or in postpartum: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Prev Med. 2013 Jun;56(6):351-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.02.021. Epub 2013 Feb 26.


Objective: To review the effectiveness of physical activity (PA) and PA plus diet interventions in managing weight among overweight or obese (OW/OB) pregnant or postpartum women.

Methods: Four databases were searched for randomized controlled studies published between January 2000 and December 2011 that reported weight change outcomes of PA interventions in OW/OB pregnant or postpartum women. PA alone as well as PA plus diet interventions were included.

Results: Of 681 abstracts identified, 11 were included (7 trials with pregnant women and 4 trials with postpartum women). Overall, we found that PA interventions were effective for OW/OB pregnant as well as postpartum women. On average, pregnant women in the intervention groups gained 0.91kg less (95% CI: -1.76, -0.06) compared with those in the usual care groups. Postpartum women in the intervention groups significantly lost more body weight (-1.22kg; 95% CI: -1.89, -0.56) than those in the control groups. In the subgroup analyses by PA intervention types, supervised PA plus diet interventions were the most effective.

Conclusions: PA plus diet interventions may require more than advice; supervised PA programs or personalized prescription/goals are needed to prevent excessive weight gain for OW/OB pregnant women and excessive weight retention for OW/OB postpartum women.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight / diet therapy
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diet therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weight Gain