Added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with increased postpartum weight gain and soluble fiber intake is associated with postpartum weight loss in Hispanic women from Southern California

Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Sep 1;112(3):519-526. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa156.


Background: Obesity prevalence remains high in the United States, and there is an increased risk among women who do not lose their gestational weight gain during the postpartum period. Indicators of dietary carbohydrate quality including added sugar consumption, glycemic load, and glycemic index have been linked with weight gain, whereas fiber may protect against obesity. However, these dietary factors have not been examined during the postpartum period.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether dietary sugars and fiber intake were associated with changes in postpartum weight.

Methods: We examined Hispanic women from the longitudinal Southern California Mother's Milk Study (n = 99) at 1 and 6 mo postpartum. Maternal assessments included height, weight, and dietary intake based on 24-h diet recalls. We used multivariable linear regression to examine the relation between maternal diet and change in postpartum weight after adjusting for maternal age, height, and energy intake.

Results: Higher intake of added sugar was associated with postpartum weight gain (β: 0.05; 95% CI: 0.004, 0.10; P = 0.05). In addition, a half 8-ounce (8 fluid ounces = 236.6 mL) serving per day increase in soft drinks was associated with a 1.52-kg increase in weight (95% CI: 0.70, 2.34 kg; P < 0.001). A high glycemic index (β: 0.25; 95% CI: 0.07, 0.42; P = 0.006) and glycemic load (β: 0.04; 95% CI: 0.002, 0.08; P = 0.04) were associated with postpartum weight gain. Higher soluble fiber was associated with a decrease in postpartum weight (β: -0.82 kg; 95% CI: -1.35, -0.29 kg; P = 0.003) and the negative effects of added sugar, sugary beverages, and high-glycemic-index and -load diets were partially attenuated after adjusting for soluble fiber intake.

Conclusions: Increased consumption of added sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, and high-glycemic diets were associated with greater weight gain in the first 6 mo postpartum. In addition, increased consumption of soluble fiber was associated with postpartum weight loss, which may partially offset the obesogenic effects of some dietary sugars.

Keywords: Hispanics; added sugar; dietary sugar; postpartum weight; sugar-sweetened beverages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • California
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Sugars / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverages*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Sugars