Exercise, Mediterranean Diet Adherence or Both during Pregnancy to Prevent Postpartum Depression-GESTAFIT Trial Secondary Analyses

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 4;19(21):14450. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192114450.


Targeting lifestyle behaviors during pregnancy is crucial to prevent the highly prevalent postpartum depression and its consequences. In these secondary analyses of an intervention trial to investigate the effects of concurrent exercise training on postpartum depression, we aimed to investigate the potential role of Mediterranean diet (MD) adherence on the exercise effects. A total of 85 pregnant women met the per-protocol criteria (exercise n = 46, control n = 39). The exercise program was delivered in 60 min sessions, 3 days/week, from the 17th gestational week until birth. Women's dietary habits were assessed with a food frequency questionnaire. The Mediterranean Food Pattern (an MD index) was derived from it to assess MD adherence. We used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to assess postpartum depression. The postpartum depression score was not statistically different between control and exercise groups (p > 0.05). A higher consumption of fruits (β = -0.242, p = 0.022), lower intake of red meat and subproducts (β = 0.244, p = 0.020), and a greater MD adherence (β = -0.236, p = 0.027) were associated with lower levels of postpartum depression. Greater adherence to the MD during pregnancy was associated with fewer depressive symptoms and a lower risk of postpartum depression. Postnatal depression was not reduced by prenatal exercise. Promoting fruit consumption while controlling the intake of red meat during pregnancy might prevent postnatal depression.

Keywords: Mediterranean; depression; diet; exercise; postpartum period; pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression, Postpartum* / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum* / prevention & control
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the Regional Ministry of Health of the Junta de Andalucía (PI-0395-2016) and the Research and Knowledge Transfer Fund (PPIT) 2016, Excellence Actions Programme: Scientific Units of Excellence (UCEES), and the Regional Ministry of Economy, Knowledge, Enterprises, and University, European Regional Development Funds (SOMM17/6107/UGR) of the University of Granada. MFA was additionally funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports (Grant number FPU17/03715). This study is included in the thesis of M.F.-A. enrolled in the Doctoral Programme in Nutrition and Food Sciences of the University of Granada.