The effectiveness of weight-loss lifestyle interventions for improving fertility in women and men with overweight or obesity and infertility: A systematic review update of evidence from randomized controlled trials

Obes Rev. 2021 Dec;22(12):e13325. doi: 10.1111/obr.13325. Epub 2021 Aug 13.


Being overweight or obese can have a negative impact on fertility outcomes. This systematic review updates randomized controlled trial (RCT) findings on the effectiveness of weight loss interventions in reducing weight and improving reproductive outcomes of women and men with overweight or obesity and infertility. Eligible studies, published since the last review, were identified by searching databases from March 20, 2016 until March 31, 2020. RCTs involving any type of lifestyle intervention were considered. Eight RCTs were identified and aggregated with seven RCTs included in our previous review. Meta-analyses revealed that women randomized to a combined diet and exercise intervention were more likely to become pregnant, risk ratio (RR) = 1.87 (95% CI 1.20, 2.93) and achieve a live birth RR = 2.20 (95% CI 1.23, 3.94), compared to women in control groups who received no or minimal intervention. This pattern was not replicated in trials where control groups received immediate access to assisted reproductive technology (ART). No eligible randomized trials involving men were identified. Data were largely obtained from small scale studies. Better designed, adequately powered, robust randomized trials are needed to better understand the effect of weight loss interventions on reproductive outcomes in both women and men.

Keywords: assisted reproductive technology; infertility; obesity; systematic review; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Infertility*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight* / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weight Loss