DIET AND EXERCISE STRATEGIES OF POST-PARTUM WOMEN INTENDING TO LOSE OR MAINTAIN WEIGHT

Open Access
Author:
Julius, Nicholas John
Area of Honors:
Kinesiology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr Cynthia Bartok, Thesis Supervisor
  • Cynthia Bartok, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stephen Jacob Piazza, Honors Advisor
  • Jennifer Savage Williams, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Postpartum weight retention
  • obesity
  • gestational weight gain
  • women of childbearing age
  • diet
  • exercise
Abstract:
OBJECTIVES: The main objective of this study was to report the types of weight loss strategies women are using from 6-12 months post-partum. DESIGN: We used data from the Fostering Optimal Growth Through Prevention and Intervention Strategies (FOOTPRINTS) longitudinal, observational study of mother-infant dyads to investigate this research question. SUBJECTS: Thirty-seven mothers living in Centre County, Pennsylvania. MEASUREMENTS: Pregravid weight and gestational weight gain for each participant were self-reported. Weight and percent fat mass were measured at 1, 6, 9, and 12 months post-partum. The French Survey was administered at 12 months post-partum to document the weight loss strategies used during the previous 6 months34. ANALYSIS: The data from the French Survey was analyzed for trends in the frequency and prevalence in which women participated in healthy and unhealthy weight loss strategies. RESULTS: Most women (86%) were actively engaging in weight loss strategies from 6-12 months post-partum. However, after 1 year post-partum, the number of women currently trying to lose weight was only 25% and a little over half (56%) were currently trying to maintain their weight. Of the 20 women that tried to lose weight from 6 months to 12 months post-partum, 70% (n=14) of them felt they succeeded. However, only 20% (n=4) of these women consider their weight loss “very successful”. The most prevalent weight loss strategies were eating more fruits and vegetables (56%), increasing exercise (44%), and eliminating sweets (44%). Unhealthy strategies were not readily practiced, 13 with the most prevalent of these strategies including skipping meals (17%) and fasting (9%). Dieting was always used in combination with exercise. CONCLUSION: From 6-12 months post-partum, most women are actively trying to maintain or lose weight; with the majority of these women exclusively using healthful strategies to do so. Future research needs to be conducted to determine which strategies are the most effective at reducing both the weight and fat mass of post-partum women.