Among young Latinas, the prevalence rate is 45% for obesity and 76% for overweight classifications, exceeding rates for the US population as a whole [1
]. The critical developmental milestone of pregnancy presents significant opportunity for weight gain associated with childbearing [2
]. Failure to lose weight gained during pregnancy or excess weight carried into the most recent pregnancy may contribute to obesity-related risk and illness later in life [3
]. Cross-sectional and retrospective examinations of weight gain in young women suggest that childbearing may be an important contributor to the development of obesity in women [9
Postpartum weight gain has been shown to be correlated with weight gained during gestation, parity (number of births), prenatal physical activity, ethnicity, and prepregnancy weight [10
] and associated with specific health risks such as long-term weight gain [11
]. Rooney and Schauberger showed that excess weight gain during pregnancy and failure to lose weight after birth predicted long-term weight changes and higher BMIs in women up to a decade after childbirth [12
Social support is the most commonly reported correlate of physical activity for Latinas [13
] and support can be an important mechanism for behavior change related to weight management [18
]. Postpartum Mexican-born Latinas view social support as essential to the maintenance of physical activity, especially when compared with women of other racial and ethnic groups [19
Recent reports show evidence that the built environment is associated with neighborhood-level socioeconomic status, obesity/body mass index (BMI) and healthy eating behaviors [20
]. Several factors in the built environment of a neighborhood that contribute to or impede healthy behaviors (e.g., healthy eating and physical activity) include safety, lighted streets, curbs, neighborhood food purchase accessibility, and crime [21
]. Thus, the intersection of social support, neighborhood support, and overweight and obesity among Latinas during their childbearing years becomes an important consideration.
The purpose of this paper is to describe this paper describes the correlates of overweight and obesity in postpartum Latinas during the first 6 months after birth. Accordingly, the study aims guiding this paper are the following: (1) describe distributions of body composition measures and (2) relationships among social support, neighborhood environment factors, acculturation markers, and body composition among postpartum Latinas. The study protocol was approved by the lead investigator's institutional review board (IRB) and the IRB of the partnering medical center; each participant completed IRB-approved written consent.