Effective strategies for weight loss in post-partum women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Obes Rev. 2015 Nov;16(11):972-87. doi: 10.1111/obr.12312. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


Post-partum weight loss is critical to preventing and managing obesity in women, but the results from lifestyle interventions are variable and the components associated with successful outcomes are not yet clearly identified. This study aimed to identify lifestyle intervention strategies associated with weight loss in post-partum women. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, CINAHL and four other databases were searched for lifestyle intervention studies (diet or exercise or both) in post-partum women (within 12 months of delivery) published up to July 2014. The primary outcome was weight loss. Subgroup analyses were conducted for self-monitoring, individual or group setting, intervention duration, intervention types, the use of technology as a support, and home- or centre-based interventions. From 12,673 studies, 46 studies were included in systematic review and 32 randomized controlled trials were eligible for meta-analysis (1,892 women, age 24-36 years). Studies with self-monitoring had significantly greater weight lost than those without (-4.61 kg [-7.08, -2.15] vs. -1.34 kg [-1.66, -1.02], P = 0.01 for subgroup differences). Diet and physical activity when combined were significantly more effective on weight loss compared with physical activity alone (-3.24 kg [-4.59, -1.90] vs. -1.63 kg [-2.16, -1.10], P < 0.001 for subgroup differences). Lifestyle interventions that use self-monitoring and take a combined diet-and-exercise approach have significantly greater weight loss in post-partum women.

Keywords: lifestyle interventions; post-partum women; weight gain; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss