British Journal of Nutrition

Dietary intake and other factors affecting postpartum development

Trends in eating patterns, physical activity and socio-demographic factors in relation to postpartum body weight development

Agneta Öhlina1 and Stephan RÖssnera1

a1 Obesity Unit, Karolinska Hospital, and Health Behaviour Research, Karolinska Institute, S-171 76, Stockholm, Sweden


‘The Stockholm Pregnancy and Weight Development Study’ was conducted to identify risk factors for postpartum weight retention, such as dietary habits, physical activity and socio-demographic factors. The body weight development of 1423 pregnant women was studied prospectively from the beginning of the pregnancy until 1 year postpartum. Data were collected from routine pregnancy records and from questionnaires 6 and 12 months postpartum. Mean weight retention 1 year postpartum was 0.5 kg compared with the prepregnancy body weight. A ‘trend method’ was constructed to identify a number of pre-defined major patterns of behaviour. The weight retention 1 year postpartum was greater in women who (a) increased their energy intake during and after pregnancy, (b) increased their snack eating after pregnancy tc three or more snacks/d, and (c) decreased their lunch frequency starring during or after the pregnancy. Women who had retained > 5 kg 1 year postpartum were more seldom physically active in their leisure time throughout the study period compared with women with a smaller weight gain. Postpartum weight retention correlated negatively with the degree of physical activity in the second half year postpartum. These results indicate that postpartum weight retention is more affected by a change in lifestyle during, and above all after, pregnancy than by factors before pregnancy.

(Received August 03 1992)

(Accepted June 21 1993)