HealthDay News — Weight-loss interventions targeting new mothers, particularly low-income women, could help tighten the belt on obesity rates, according to researchers.

Nearly 17% of women in an Irish cohort study were obese nine months after giving birth, Michael J. Turner, MB, BCh, from the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, and Richard Layte, PhD, from the Economic and Social Research Institute, both in Dublin, reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Socioeconomic disadvantage and multiple births contributed to this association, they added.

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To better understand the relationship between obesity after pregnancy and socioeconomic variables, Turner and Layte sampled a cohort of 10,524 mothers aged 31.6 years on average, who participated in the Growing Up in Ireland Study Infant Cohort. Trained fieldworkers interviewed the participants with validated questionnaires. At the nine-month postpartum interview, weight and height measurements were completed and BMI was calculated.

Mean BMI index after delivery was 25.7 ± 5.4 kg/m² and 16.8% of participants were obese.

Smoking, lower household income, African nationality, earlier completion of full-time education, gestational weight gain, shorter breastfeeding duration and increasing parity correlated positively with postpartum maternal obesity levels in univariate analyses.

Maternal obesity remained associated with increasing parity in lower income households, but not in higher income households in multivariable analysis.

“Public health interventions that are aimed at decreasing obesity levels after childbirth should prioritize women who are disadvantaged socioeconomically,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Turner MJ, Layte R. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013; 209(2);e1-e24.