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Provider Advice about Weight Loss and Physical Activity in the Postpartum Period


Ferrari, Renee M.; Siega-Riz, Anna Maria; Evenson, Kelly R.; Moos, Merry-K.; Melvin, Cathie L.; & Herring, Amy H. (2010). Provider Advice about Weight Loss and Physical Activity in the Postpartum Period. Journal of Women's Health, 19(3), 397-406. PMCID: PMC2867629


Objective: To explore the association between healthcare provider advice about weight loss and physical activity in the postpartum period and weight retention and activity levels in women assessed at 3 months postpartum.
Methods: Using data from a prospective cohort study, we explored the association of advice with postpartum weight retention and activity levels in 688 women at 3 months postpartum. Data from home visits included anthropometric measurements and information collected from sociodemographic, health behavior, and psychosocial questionnaires. Weight retention was calculated as weight at 3 months postpartum minus prepregnancy weight; activity levels and advice were based on maternal self-report. Linear regression and Poisson regression were used to explore associations.
Results: The majority of the population was white (76%), had a greater than high school education (83%), and had an income >185% of the federal poverty level (81%). Women ranged in age from 17 to 48 years. Most women reported receiving no weight loss (89.1%) and no physical activity advice (77.4%) from a healthcare provider during the 3-month postpartum period. After adjustment, we found no association between provider advice and weight retention. When compared with those who reported no advice, following provider advice showed an association with recreational activity above the median (RR 1.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24, 1.80).
Conclusions: Provider advice may influence physical activity but may not be enough to help postpartum women lose pregnancy weight. Instead, women may benefit more from individualized counseling and follow-up beyond the usual 6-week postpartum visit.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Women's Health


Ferrari, Renee M.
Siega-Riz, Anna Maria
Evenson, Kelly R.
Moos, Merry-K.
Melvin, Cathie L.
Herring, Amy H.