Postpartum weight loss classes work

ST. LOUIS -- New moms who want to lose weight succeed when they participate in a structured program of weekly meetings that focus on diet and nutrition, according to Saint Louis University research.

The findings were published in the Journal of Women's Health.

"The study demonstrates that women who complete a structured diet and physical activity intervention during the early postpartum period successfully lose weight," says Mary L. O'Toole, Ph.D., principal investigator and professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Those given general advice about diet and exercise do not."

The study is important in addressing the obesity epidemic because it focused on women who were overweight when they became pregnant. (Overweight women have a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 30; obese women have a BMI of more than 30.)

"Obesity has become such a severe problem that we need to identify times when people are at risk of becoming obese and prevent it from happening," O'Toole says. "The postpartum period is a time we know women tend to retain the weight they gained during pregnancy and start in a downward spiral."

Women who attended 12 weekly diet and activity education sessions lost an average of 16 pounds at the end of the year's study.

By contrast, women who received a single hour long educational session on diet and exercise lost an average of slightly less than three pounds.

"At this critical time, people need continual reinforcement," O'Toole says. "If you do that one time a week for 12 weeks, they will successfully lose weight. You can't just tell women one time that they need to consume less than 1,600 calories and walk 30 minutes a day."

The study attracted 40 moms whose babies were between 6 weeks and 6 months old, had gained more than 33 pounds during pregnancy, and were more than 11 pounds heavier than that when they became

Contact: Nancy Solomon
Saint Louis University

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