Efforts to prevent postpartum weight retention in extant clinical trials of African American women have proven exceedingly challenging. The primary purpose of this pilot study was to determine whether a behavioral intervention implemented in early pregnancy through 6 months postpartum could increase the proportion of African American women who were at or below their early pregnancy weights by 6 months postpartum. We additionally evaluated whether mothers' postpartum weight loss could be maintained at 12 months postpartum. Participants were 66 socioeconomically disadvantaged African American women (36% overweight, 64% obese) randomly assigned to a behavioral intervention or usual care group. The intervention, implemented from early pregnancy to 6 months postpartum, promoted weight control through: (1) empirically supported behavior change goals; (2) interactive self-monitoring text messages; (3) weekly to monthly health coach calls; and (4) skills training and support through Facebook. In modified intent-to-treat analyses, participants assigned to the intervention were significantly more likely to be at or below their early pregnancy weights by 6 months postpartum compared to usual care (56% vs. 29%, p = 0.04). At 12 months postpartum, the maternal weight difference between intervention and usual care groups was not maintained (41% vs. 38% respectively at or below early pregnancy weights, p = 0.83). Findings suggest that a combined pregnancy and postpartum weight control intervention improves 6 month weight outcomes in socioeconomically disadvantaged African American women with obesity. Longer interventions may be needed to overcome late postpartum weight gain among this high risk group. Clinical trial registration number: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01530776.
Keywords: African American; Obesity; Postpartum; Pregnancy; Technology; Weight loss.