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1.  Behavioural interventions for weight management in pregnancy: A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative data 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:491.
There is a rising prevalence of excessive weight gain in pregnancy and an increasing number of pregnant women who are overweight or obese at the start of the pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is associated with adverse maternal and neonatal consequences and increases the risk of long-term obesity. Pregnancy therefore may be a key time to prevent excessive weight gain and improve the health of women and their unborn child. This systematic review sought to assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions to prevent excessive weight gain in pregnancy and explore the factors that influence intervention effectiveness.
We undertook a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative evidence. This included a meta-analysis of controlled trials of diet and physical activity interventions to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy and a thematic synthesis of qualitative studies that investigated the views of women on weight management during pregnancy. A thorough search of eleven electronic bibliographic databases, reference lists of included studies, relevant review articles and experts in the field were contacted to identify potentially relevant studies.
Two independent reviewers extracted data. RevMan software was used to perform the meta-analyses. Qualitative data was subject to thematic analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative data were aligned using a matrix framework.
Five controlled trials and eight qualitative studies were included. The overall pooled effect size found no significant difference in gestational weight gain amongst participants in the intervention group compared with the control group (mean difference -0.28 95% CI -0.64 to 0.09). The study designs, participants and interventions all varied markedly and there was significant heterogeneity within this comparison in the meta-analysis (I2 67%). Subgroup and sensitivity analysis did not identify contextual elements that influenced the effectiveness of the intervention.
In a thematic analysis of the qualitative studies, three major themes emerged relating to women's views of weight management in pregnancy: pregnancy as a time of transition and change, conflicting and contradictory messages and a perceived lack of control. When the results of both quantitative and qualitative data were aligned it was clear that some of the barriers that women described in achieving healthy weight gain in pregnancy were not addressed by the interventions evaluated. This may have contributed to the limited effectiveness of the interventions.
Despite intense and often tailored interventions there was no statistically significant effect on weight gain during pregnancy. Inadequate and often contradictory information regarding healthy weight management was reported by women in qualitative studies and this was addressed in the interventions but this in itself was insufficient to lead to reduced weight gain. Multiple types of interventions, including community based strategies are needed to address this complex health problem.
PMCID: PMC3154865  PMID: 21696589
2.  Experiences of physical activity during pregnancy in Danish nulliparous women with a physically active life before pregnancy. A qualitative study 
National guidelines recommend that healthy pregnant women take 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day. Most women reduce the level of physical activity during pregnancy but only a few studies of women's experiences of physical activity during pregnancy exist. The aim of the present study was to elucidate experiences and views of leisure time physical activity during pregnancy in nulliparous women who were physically active prior to their pregnancy.
A qualitative study was conducted by means of personal interviews. Nineteen women, all with a moderate pre-pregnancy level of physical activity but with different levels of physical activity during pregnancy, participated in the study. Content analysis was applied.
In the analyses of experiences and views of physical activities during pregnancy, four categories and nine sub-categories were developed: Physical activity as a lifestyle (Habit and Desire to continue), Body awareness (Pregnancy-related discomfort, Having a complicated pregnancy and A growing body), Carefulness (Feelings of worry and Balancing worry and sense of security) and Sense of benefit (Feelings of happiness and Physical well-being).
As other studies have also shown, women find that the discomfort and complications associated with pregnancy, the growing body, and a sense of insecurity with physical activity are barriers to maintaining former levels of physical activity. This study adds a new perspective by describing women's perceptions of these barriers and of overcoming them - thus, when pregnant, the majority of the women do not cease to be physically active but continue to be so. Barriers are overcome by applying one's own experience, looking to role models, mirroring the activities of other pregnant women and following the advice of experts (midwives/physiotherapists). Women then continue to be physically active during pregnancy, most often to a lesser extent or in alternative activities, and derive considerable enjoyment and physical well-being from this.
PMCID: PMC2913936  PMID: 20584333
3.  The effect of mere-measurement of cognitions on physical activity behavior: a randomized controlled trial among overweight and obese individuals 
The promotion of physical activity among an overweight/obese population is an important challenge for clinical practitioners and researchers. In this regard, completing a questionnaire on cognitions could be a simple and easy strategy to increase levels of physical activity. Thus, the aim of the present study was to test the effect of completing a questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) on the level of physical activity.
Overall, 452 overweight/obese adults were recruited and randomized to the experimental or control group. At baseline, participants completed a questionnaire on cognitions regarding their participation in leisure-time physical activity (experimental condition) versus a questionnaire on fruit and vegetable consumption (control condition). The questionnaires assessed the TPB variables that are beliefs, attitude, norm, perception of control, intention and a few additional variables from other theories. At three-month follow-up, leisure-time physical activity was self-reported by means of a short questionnaire. An analysis of covariance with baseline physical activity level as covariate was used to verify the effect of the intervention.
At follow-up, 373 participants completed the leisure-time physical activity questionnaire. The statistical analysis showed that physical activity participation was greater among participants in the experimental condition than those in the control condition (F(1,370) = 6.85, p = .009, d = 0.20).
Findings indicate that completing a TPB questionnaire has a significant positive impact on subsequent participation in physical activity. Consequently, asking individuals to complete such a questionnaire is a simple, inexpensive and easy strategy to increase the level of physical activity among overweight/obese adults.
PMCID: PMC3023726  PMID: 21223565
4.  Physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and estimated insulin sensitivity and secretion in pregnant and non-pregnant women 
Overweight and obesity during pregnancy raise the risk of gestational diabetes and birth complications. Lifestyle factors like physical activity may decrease these risks through beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis. Here we examined physical activity patterns and their relationships with measures of glucose homeostasis in late pregnancy compared to non-pregnant women.
Normal weight and overweight women without diabetes (N = 108; aged 25-35 years) were studied; 35 were pregnant (in gestational weeks 28-32) and 73 were non-pregnant.
Insulin sensitivity and β-cell response were estimated from an oral glucose tolerance test. Physical activity was measured during 10-days of free-living using a combined heart rate sensor and accelerometer. Total (TEE), resting (REE), and physical activity (PAEE) energy expenditure were measured using doubly-labeled water and expired gas indirect calorimetry.
Total activity was associated with reduced first-phase insulin response in both pregnant (Regression r2 = 0.11; Spearman r = -0.47; p = 0.007) and non-pregnant women (Regression r2 = 0.11 Spearman; r = -0.36; p = 0.002). Relative to non-pregnant women, pregnant women were estimated to have secreted 67% more insulin and had 10% lower fasting glucose than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women spent 13% more time sedentary, 71% less time in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity, had 44% lower objectively measured total activity, and 12% lower PAEE than non-pregnant women. Correlations did not differ significantly for any comparison between physical activity subcomponents and measures of insulin sensitivity or secretion.
Our findings suggest that physical activity conveys similar benefits on glucose homeostasis in pregnant and non-pregnant women, despite differences in subcomponents of physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3130709  PMID: 21679399
pregnancy; physical activity; sedentary time; β-cell response; insulin sensitivity
5.  Misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status predicts excessive gestational weight gain: findings from a US cohort study 
Excessive gestational weight gain promotes poor maternal and child health outcomes. Weight misperception is associated with weight gain in non-pregnant women, but no data exist during pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status with excessive gestational weight gain.
At study enrollment, participants in Project Viva reported weight, height, and perceived body weight status by questionnaire. Our study sample comprised 1537 women who had either normal or overweight/obese pre-pregnancy BMI. We created 2 categories of pre-pregnancy body weight status misperception: normal weight women who identified themselves as overweight ('overassessors') and overweight/obese women who identified themselves as average or underweight ('underassessors'). Women who correctly perceived their body weight status were classified as either normal weight or overweight/obese accurate assessors. We performed multivariable logistic regression to determine the odds of excessive gestational weight gain according to 1990 Institute of Medicine guidelines.
Of the 1029 women with normal pre-pregnancy BMI, 898 (87%) accurately perceived and 131 (13%) overassessed their weight status. 508 women were overweight/obese, of whom 438 (86%) accurately perceived and 70 (14%) underassessed their pre-pregnancy weight status. By the end of pregnancy, 823 women (54%) gained excessively. Compared with normal weight accurate assessors, the adjusted odds of excessive gestational weight gain was 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3, 3.0) in normal weight overassessors, 2.9 (95% CI: 2.2, 3.9) in overweight/obese accurate assessors, and 7.6 (95% CI: 3.4, 17.0) in overweight/obese underassessors.
Misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status was associated with excessive gestational weight gain among both normal weight and overweight/obese women, with the greatest likelihood of excessive gain among overweight/obese underassessors. Future interventions should test the potential benefits of correcting misperception to reduce the likelihood of excessive gestational weight gain.
PMCID: PMC2639379  PMID: 19102729
6.  Exercise in obese pregnant women: The role of social factors, lifestyle and pregnancy symptoms 
Physical activity may reduce the risk of adverse maternal outcomes, yet there are very few studies that have examined the correlates of exercise amongst obese women during pregnancy. We examined which relevant sociodemographic, obstetric, and health behaviour variables and pregnancy symptoms were associated with exercise in a small sample of obese pregnant women.
This was a secondary analysis using data from an exercise intervention for the prevention of gestational diabetes in obese pregnant women. Using the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ), 50 obese pregnant women were classified as "Exercisers" if they achieved ≥900 kcal/wk of exercise and "Non-Exercisers" if they did not meet this criterion. Analyses examined which relevant variables were associated with exercise status at 12, 20, 28 and 36 weeks gestation.
Obese pregnant women with a history of miscarriage; who had children living at home; who had a lower pre-pregnancy weight; reported no nausea and vomiting; and who had no lower back pain, were those women who were most likely to have exercised in early pregnancy. Exercise in late pregnancy was most common among tertiary educated women.
Offering greater support to women from disadvantaged backgrounds and closely monitoring women who report persistent nausea and vomiting or lower back pain in early pregnancy may be important. The findings may be particularly useful for other interventions aimed at reducing or controlling weight gain in obese pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3025919  PMID: 21226958
7.  Pregnancy: A “teachable moment” for weight control and obesity prevention 
Excessive gestational weight gain has been shown to relate to high postpartum weight retention and the development of overweight and obesity later in life. Since many women are concerned about the health of their baby during pregnancy and are in frequent contact with their health care providers, pregnancy may be an especially powerful “teachable moment” for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among women. Initial research suggests that helping women gain the recommended amount during pregnancy through healthy eating and physical activity could make a major contribution to preventing postpartum weight retention. However, more randomized controlled trials with larger samples sizes are needed to identify the most effective and disemminable intervention. Providers have the potential to prevent high postpartum weight retention and future obesity by monitoring weight gain during pregnancy and giving appropriate advice about recommended amounts of gestational weight gain.
PMCID: PMC2815033  PMID: 19683692
8.  A Systematic Review Investigating Healthy Lifestyle Interventions Incorporating Goal Setting Strategies for Preventing Excess Gestational Weight Gain 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39503.
Excess gestational weight gain (GWG) is an important risk factor for long term obesity in women. However, current interventions aimed at preventing excess GWG appear to have a limited effect. Several studies have highlighted the importance of linking theory with empirical evidence for producing effective interventions for behaviour change. Theorists have demonstrated that goals can be an important source of human motivation and goal setting has shown promise in promoting diet and physical activity behaviour change within non-pregnant individuals. The use of goal setting as a behaviour change strategy has been systematically evaluated within overweight and obese individuals, yet its use within pregnancy has not yet been systematically explored.
Aim of review
To explore the use of goal setting within healthy lifestyle interventions for the prevention of excess GWG.
Data collection and analysis
Searches were conducted in seven databases alongside hand searching of relevant journals and citation tracking. Studies were included if interventions used goal setting alongside modification of diet and/or physical activity with an aim to prevent excess GWG. The PRISMA guidelines were followed and a two-stage methodological approach was used. Stage one focused on systematically evaluating the methodological quality of included interventions. The second stage assessed intervention integrity and the implementation of key goal setting components.
From a total of 839 citations, 54 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility and 5 studies met the inclusion criteria. Among interventions reporting positive results a combination of individualised diet and physical activity goals, self-monitoring and performance feedback indicators were described as active components.
Interventions based on goal setting appear to be useful for helping women achieve optimal weight gain during pregnancy. However, overweight and obese women may require more theoretically-designed interventions. Further high quality, theoretically-designed interventions are required to determine the most effective and replicable components for optimal GWG.
PMCID: PMC3390339  PMID: 22792178
9.  “What My Doctor Didn’t Tell Me”: Examining Health Care Provider Advice to Overweight and Obese Pregnant Women on Gestational Weight Gain and Physical Activity 
Appropriate gestational weight gain (GWG) is vital, as excessive GWG is strongly associated with postpartum weight retention and long-term obesity. How health care providers counsel overweight and obese pregnant women on appropriate GWG and physical activity remains largely unexplored.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with overweight and obese women following the birth of their first child to ascertain their experiences with GWG. A grounded theory approach was used to identify themes on provider advice received about GWG and physical activity during pregnancy.
Twenty-four women were included in the analysis. Three themes emerged in discussions regarding provider advice on GWG—(1) Women were advised to gain too much weight or given no recommendation for GWG at all; (2) Providers were perceived as being unconcerned about excessive GWG; and (3) Women desire and value GWG advice from their providers. On the topic of provider advice on exercise in pregnancy, three themes were identified: (1) Women received limited or no advice on appropriate physical activity during pregnancy; (2) Women were advised to be cautious and limit exercise during pregnancy and (3) Women perceived that provider knowledge on appropriate exercise intensity and frequency in pregnancy was limited.
This study suggests that provider advice on GWG and exercise is insufficient and often inappropriate, and thus unlikely to positively influence how overweight and obese women shape goals and expectations in regard to GWG and exercise behaviors. Interventions to help pregnant women attain healthy GWG and adequate physical activity are needed.
PMCID: PMC3490197  PMID: 23122213
gestational weight gain; physical activity; exercise; pregnancy; obesity
10.  French Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire Compared with an Accelerometer Cut Point to Classify Physical Activity among Pregnant Obese Women 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38818.
Given the high risk for inactivity during pregnancy in obese women, validated questionnaires for physical activity (PA) assessment in this specific population is required before evaluating the effect of PA on perinatal outcomes. No questionnaire was validated in pregnant obese women. The Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ) has been designed based on activities reported during pregnancy and validated in pregnant women. We translated the PPAQ to French and assessed reliability and accuracy of this French version among pregnant obese women. In this cross-sectional study, pregnant obese women were evenly recruited at the end of each trimester of pregnancy. They completed the PPAQ twice, with an interval of 7 days in-between, to recall PA of the last three months. Between PPAQ assessments, participants wore an accelerometer (Actigraph GT1M) during 7 consecutive days. Fourty-nine (49) pregnant obese women (29.8±4.2 yrs, 34.7±5.1 kg.m−2) participated to the study. The intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) between the two PPAQ assessments were 0.90 for total activity, 0.86 for light and for moderate intensity, and 0.81 for vigorous intensity activities. It ranged from 0.59 for “Transportation” to 0.89 for “Household and Caregiving” activities. Spearman correlation coefficients (SCCs) between the PPAQ and the Matthews’ cut point used to classify an activity of moderate and above intensity were 0.50 for total activity, 0.25 for vigorous intensity and 0.40 for moderate intensity. The correlations between the PPAQ and the accelerometer counts were 0.58 for total activity, 0.39 for vigorous intensity and 0.49 for moderate intensity. The highest SCCs were for “Occupation” and “Household and Caregiving” activities. Comparisons with other standard cutpoints were presented in files S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, S7. The PPAQ is reliable and moderately accurate for the measure of PA of various intensities and types among pregnant obese women.
PMCID: PMC3372468  PMID: 22701717
11.  Early intervention of multiple home visits to prevent childhood obesity in a disadvantaged population: a home-based randomised controlled trial (Healthy Beginnings Trial) 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:76.
Studies have shown that a proportion of children as young as two years are already overweight. This indicates that obesity prevention programs that commence as early as possible and are family-focused are needed. This Healthy Beginnings Trial aims to determine the efficacy of a community-based randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a home visiting intervention in preventing the early onset of childhood overweight and obesity. The intervention will be conducted over the first two years of life to increase healthy feeding behaviours and physical activity, decrease physical inactivity, enhance parent-child interaction, and hence reduce overweight and obesity among children at 2 and 5 years of age in the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas of Sydney, Australia.
This RCT will be conducted with a consecutive sample of 782 first time mothers with their newborn children. Pregnant women who are expecting their first child, and who are between weeks 24 and 34 of their pregnancy, will be invited to participate in the trial at the antenatal clinic. Informed consent will be obtained and participants will then be randomly allocated to the intervention or the control group. The allocation will be concealed by sequentially numbered, sealed opaque envelopes containing a computer generated random number. The intervention comprises eight home visits from a specially trained community nurse over two years and pro-active telephone support between the visits. Main outcomes include a) duration of breastfeeding measured at 6 and 12 months, b) introduction of solids measured at 4 and 6 months, c) nutrition, physical activity and television viewing measured at 24 months, and d) overweight/obesity status at age 2 and 5 years.
The results of this trial will ascertain whether the home based early intervention is effective in preventing the early onset of childhood overweight and obesity. If proved to be effective, it will result in a series of recommendations for policy and practical methods for promoting healthy feeding and physical activity of children in the first two years of life with particular application to families who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
PMCID: PMC1877802  PMID: 17490492
12.  Latina Mothers’ Beliefs and Practices Related to Weight Status, Feeding and the Development of Child Overweight 
To examine maternal beliefs and practices related to weight status, child feeding, and child overweight in the Latino culture that may contribute to the rising rates of overweight among preschool Latino children in the U.S.
Design and sample
This two-phase qualitative study relies on data obtained in 6 focus groups with a total of 31 primarily Spanish-speaking, low income mothers, followed by 20 individual, in-depth interviews with women participating in a health promotion educational program.
Child-feeding beliefs, practices and weight status perceptions were elicited.
Findings indicated that most respondents reported personal struggles with weight gain, particularly during and after pregnancy, and were concerned that their children would become obese. Although subjects understood the health and social consequences related to overweight, many discussed the pressures of familial and cultural influences endorsing a “chubby child.”
Education and interventions that incorporate “culturally mediated” pathways to address mothers’ feeding practices are essential for prevention and control of childhood overweight among low-income Latinos. Nurses should be aware of social and cultural influences on Latina mothers’ beliefs and practices related to weight status and feeding practices and address these in their education approaches to prevent childhood overweight and obesity with this population group.
PMCID: PMC3063070  PMID: 21442018
childhood overweight; Latino; beliefs; feeding practices
13.  Maternal obesity support services: a qualitative study of the perspectives of women and midwives 
Twenty percent of pregnant women in the UK are obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), reflecting the growing public health challenge of obesity in the 21st century. Obesity increases the risk of adverse outcomes during pregnancy and birth and has significant cost implications for maternity services. Gestational weight management strategies are a high priority; however the evidence for effective, feasible and acceptable weight control interventions is limited and inconclusive. This qualitative study explored the experiences and perceptions of pregnant women and midwives regarding existing support for weight management in pregnancy and their ideas for service development.
A purposive sample of 6 women and 7 midwives from Doncaster, UK, participated in two separate focus groups. Transcripts were analysed thematically.
Two overarching themes were identified, 'Explanations for obesity and weight management' and 'Best care for pregnant women'. 'Explanations' included a lack of knowledge about weight, diet and exercise during pregnancy; self-talk messages which excused overeating; difficulties maintaining motivation for a healthy lifestyle; the importance of social support; stigmatisation; and sensitivity surrounding communication about obesity between midwives and their clients. 'Best care' suggested that weight management required care which was consistent and continuous, supportive and non-judgemental, and which created opportunities for interaction and mutual support between obese pregnant women.
Women need unambiguous advice regarding healthy lifestyles, diet and exercise in pregnancy to address a lack of knowledge and a tendency towards unhelpful self-talk messages. Midwives expressed difficulties in communicating with their clients about their weight, given awareness that obesity is a sensitive and potentially stigmatising issue. This indicates more could be done to educate and support them in their work with obese pregnant women. Motivation and social support were strong explanatory themes for obesity and weight management, suggesting that interventions should focus on motivational strategies and social support facilitation.
PMCID: PMC3198957  PMID: 21982306
14.  "I will not let my HIV status stand in the way." Decisions on motherhood among women on ART in a slum in Kenya- a qualitative study 
BMC Women's Health  2010;10:13.
The African Medical Research Foundation antiretroviral therapy program at the community health centre in Kibera counsels women to wait with pregnancy until they reach the acceptable level of 350 cells/ml CD4 count and to discuss their pregnancy intentions with their health care providers. A 2007 internal assessment showed that women were becoming pregnant before attaining the 350 cells/ml CD4 count and without consulting health care providers. This qualitative study explored experiences of intentionally becoming pregnant among women receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Nine pregnant women, six newly delivered mothers and five women wanting to get pregnant were purposefully selected for in-depth interviews. Content analysis was used to organize and interpret the women's experiences of becoming pregnant.
Women's choices for pregnancy could be categorized into one overarching theme 'strive for motherhood' consisting of three sub-themes. A child is thought of as a prerequisite for a fulfilled and happy life. The women accepted that good health was required to bear a pregnancy and thought that feeling well, taking their antiretroviral treatment and eating nutritious food was enough. Consulting health care providers was perceived as interfering with the women's decisions to get pregnant. Becoming pregnant as an HIV-infected woman was, however, complicated by the dilemmas related to disclosing HIV infection and discussing pregnancy intentions with their partners.
Motherhood is important to women on antiretroviral treatment. But they seemed to lack understanding of the relationship between a high CD4 cell count and a low chance of transmission of HIV to offspring. Better education about the relationship of perceived good physical health, low CD4 cell count and the risk of mother to child transmission is required. Women want to control the domain of childbearing but need enough information to make healthy choices without risking transmission.
PMCID: PMC2873237  PMID: 20423528
15.  An observational study of nutrition and physical activity behaviours, knowledge, and advice in pregnancy 
Maternal obesity, excess weight gain and lifestyle behaviours during pregnancy have been associated with future overweight and other adverse health outcomes for mothers and babies. This study compared the nutrition and physical activity behaviours of Australian healthy (BMI ≤ 25 k/m2) and overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) pregnant women and described their knowledge and receipt of health professional advice early in pregnancy.
Pregnant women (n=58) aged 29±5 (mean±s.d.) years were recruited at 16±2 weeks gestation from an Australian metropolitan hospital. Height and weight were measured using standard procedures and women completed a self administered semi-quantitative survey.
Healthy and overweight women had very similar levels of knowledge, behaviour and levels of advice provided except where specifically mentioned. Only 8% and 36% of participants knew the correct recommended daily number of fruit and vegetable serves respectively. Four percent of participants ate the recommended 5 serves/day of vegetables. Overweight women were less likely than healthy weight women to achieve the recommended fruit intake (4% vs. 8%, p=0.05), and more likely to consume soft drinks or cordial (55% vs 43%, p=0.005) and take away foods (37% vs. 25%, p=0.002) once a week or more. Less than half of all women achieved sufficient physical activity. Despite 80% of women saying they would have liked education about nutrition, physical activity and weight gain, particularly at the beginning of pregnancy, less than 50% were given appropriate advice regarding healthy eating and physical activity.
Healthy pregnancy behaviour recommendations were not being met, with overweight women less likely to meet some of the recommendations. Knowledge of dietary recommendations was poor and health care professional advice was limited. There are opportunities to improve the health care practices and education pregnant women received to improve knowledge and behaviours. Pregnant women appear to want this.
PMCID: PMC3663720  PMID: 23688111
Pregnancy; Nutrition; Dietary intake; Physical activity; Knowledge; Advice
16.  Measuring physical activity during pregnancy 
Currently, little is known about physical activity patterns in pregnancy with prior estimates predominantly based on subjective assessment measures that are prone to error. Given the increasing obesity rates and the importance of physical activity in pregnancy, we evaluated the relationship and agreement between subjective and objective physical activity assessment tools to inform researchers and clinicians on optimal assessment of physical activity in pregnancy.
48 pregnant women between 26-28 weeks gestation were recruited. The Yamax pedometer and Actigraph accelerometer were worn for 5-7 days under free living conditions and thereafter the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was completed. IPAQ and pedometer estimates of activity were compared to the more robust and accurate accelerometer data.
Of 48 women recruited, 30 women completed the study (mean age: 33.6 ± 4.7 years; mean BMI: 31.2 ± 5.1 kg/m2) and 18 were excluded (failure to wear [n = 8] and incomplete data [n = 10]). The accelerometer and pedometer correlated significantly on estimation of daily steps (ρ = 0.69, p < 0.01) and had good absolute agreement with low systematic error (mean difference: 505 ± 1498 steps/day). Accelerometer and IPAQ estimates of total, light and moderate Metabolic Equivalent minutes/day (MET min-1 day-1) were not significantly correlated and there was poor absolute agreement. Relative to the accelerometer, the IPAQ under predicted daily total METs (105.76 ± 259.13 min-1 day-1) and light METs (255.55 ± 128.41 min-1 day-1) and over predicted moderate METs (-112.25 ± 166.41 min-1 day-1).
Compared with the accelerometer, the pedometer appears to provide a reliable estimate of physical activity in pregnancy, whereas the subjective IPAQ measure performed less accurately in this setting. Future research measuring activity in pregnancy should optimally encompass objective measures of physical activity.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry Number: ACTRN12608000233325. Registered 7/5/2008.
PMCID: PMC3069935  PMID: 21418609
17.  Prevention of Gestational Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(7):1457-1459.
To examine the feasibility of an individualized exercise program to prevent gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in obese pregnant women.
The study was a pilot randomized controlled trial with obese pregnant women (intervention group, individualized exercise program [n = 25]; control group, usual care [n = 25]). Average weekly energy expenditure (MET hours per week and kilocalories per week) of exercise-specific activity was assessed during pregnancy using the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire. Fasting glucose and insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were assessed at baseline and 20, 28, and 36 weeks' gestation.
Of the women in the intervention group, 16 of 22 (73%) achieved more than 900 kcal/week of exercise-based activity at 28 weeks compared with 8 of 19 women in the control group (42%), P = 0.047. However, insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) did not differ between the groups.
This intervention was feasible and prompted a modest increase in physical activity. However, we are not confident that this intervention would be sufficient to prevent GDM.
PMCID: PMC2890340  PMID: 20357374
18.  A qualitative study exploring women’s beliefs about physical activity after stillbirth 
Research provides strong evidence for improvements in depressive symptoms as a result of physical activity participation in many populations including pregnant and post-partum women. Little is known about how women who have experienced stillbirth (defined as fetal death at 20 or more weeks of gestation) feel about physical activity or use physical activity following this experience. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore women’s beliefs about physical activity following a stillbirth.
This was an exploratory qualitative research study. Participants were English-speaking women between the ages of 19 and 44 years who experienced a stillbirth in the past year from their recruitment date. Interviews were conducted over the phone or in-person based on participants’ preferences and location of residence and approximately 30–45 minutes in length.
Twenty-four women participated in the study (M age = 33 ± 3.68 years; M time since stillbirth = 6.33 ± 3.06 months). Women’s beliefs about physical activity after stillbirth were coded into the following major themes: barriers to physical activity (emotional symptoms and lack of motivation, tired, lack of time, guilt, letting go of a pregnant body, and seeing other babies), benefits to physical activity (feeling better emotionally/mentally, helping women to cope or be therapeutic), importance of physical activity (working through grief, time for self), motivators for physical activity (body shape/weight, health, more children, be a role model, already an exerciser). Health care providers and their role in physical activity participation was also a major theme.
This is the first study to qualitatively explore beliefs about physical activity in women after a stillbirth. Women who have experienced stillbirth have unique beliefs about physical activity related to their experience with stillbirth. Findings from this study may help to improve the health and quality of life for women who have experienced stillbirth by utilizing physical activity as a strategy for improving depressive symptoms associated with experiencing a stillbirth. Future research in this area is highly warranted.
PMCID: PMC3901770  PMID: 24433530
Stillbirth; Loss; Physical activity; Women; Health
19.  The Effects of Physical Activity and Physical Activity plus Diet Interventions on Body Weight in Overweight or Obese Women who are Pregnant or in Postpartum: A Systematic Review and Meta Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
Preventive medicine  2013;56(6):351-364.
To review the effectiveness of physical activity (PA) and PA plus diet interventions in managing weight among overweight or obese (OW/OB) pregnant or postpartum women.
Four databases were searched for randomized controlled studies published between January 2000 and December 2011 that reported weight change outcomes of PA interventions in OW/OB pregnant or postpartum women. PA alone as well as PA plus diet interventions were included.
Of 681 abstracts identified, 11 were included (7 trials with pregnant women and 4 trials with postpartum women). Overall, we found that PA interventions were effective for OW/OB pregnant as well as postpartum women. On average, pregnant women in the intervention groups gained 0.91 kg less (95% CI: −1.76, −0.06) compared to those in the usual care groups. Postpartum women in the intervention groups significantly lost more body weight (−1.22 kg; 95% CI: −1.89, −0.56) than those in the control groups. In the subgroup analyses by PA intervention types, supervised PA plus diet interventions were the most effective.
PA plus diet interventions may require more than advice; supervised PA programs or personalized prescription/goals are needed to prevent excessive weight gain for OW/OB pregnant women and excessive weight retention for OW/OB postpartum women.
PMCID: PMC3670949  PMID: 23480971
20.  Exercise in obese pregnant women: positive impacts and current perceptions 
Overweight and obesity have significant implications during pregnancy and childbirth. The objective of this review was to provide a comprehensive overview of the effect of physical activity on pregnancy outcomes, the change of physical activity during pregnancy, and women’s perception of being physically active during pregnancy, with a particular focus on women who are overweight or obese. Many studies have investigated the beneficial effect of exercise during pregnancy, including reduced risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and operative birth, in addition to improved cardiovascular function, overall fitness, psychological well-being, and mood stability. Benefits for the infant include reduced risks of prematurity and improved fetal growth, although there is more limited information about longer-term health benefits for both women and infants. The existing literature examining physical activity patterns during pregnancy has generally focused on women of all body mass index categories, consistently indicating a reduction in activity over the course of pregnancy. However, the available literature evaluating physical activity during pregnancy among women who are overweight or obese is more limited and contradictory. A number of studies identified barriers preventing women from being active during pregnancy, including pregnancy symptoms, lack of time, access to child care, and concerns about their safety and that of their unborn baby. Conversely, significant enablers included positive psychological feelings, family influence, and receiving advice from health professionals. Very few studies have provided insights about perceptions of being active during pregnancy in the overweight and obese population. There is a need for a detailed description of physical activity patterns during pregnancy in women who are overweight or obese, and more randomized trials evaluating exercise interventions for women who are overweight or obese, with a focus on clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3704399  PMID: 23861603
pregnancy; exercise; physical activity; overweight; obesity
21.  Recruitment and Retention of Pregnant Women for a Behavioral Intervention: Lessons from the Maternal Adiposity, Metabolism, and Stress (MAMAS) Study 
Recruiting participants for research studies can be challenging. Many studies fall short of their target or must prolong recruitment to reach it. We examined recruitment and retention strategies and report lessons learned in a behavioral intervention developmental trial to encourage healthy pregnancy weight gain and stress reduction in low-income overweight pregnant women.
In the San Francisco Bay area from February 2010 through March 2011, we used direct and indirect strategies to recruit English-speaking overweight and obese pregnant women who were aged 18 to 45, were in the early stages of pregnancy, and who had an annual household income less than 500% of the federal poverty guidelines. Eligible women who consented participated in focus groups or an 8-week behavioral intervention. We identified successful recruiting strategies and sites and calculated the percentage of women who were enrolled and retained.
Of 127 women screened for focus group participation, 69 were eligible and enrolled. A total of 57 women participated in 9 focus groups and 3 women completed individual interviews for a completion rate of 87%. During recruitment for the intervention, we made contact with 204 women; 135 were screened, 33% were eligible, and 69.1% of eligible women enrolled. At 1 month postpartum, 82.6% of eligible women completed an assessment. Recruiting at hospital-based prenatal clinics was the highest-yielding strategy.
The narrow window of eligibility for enrolling early stage pregnant women in a group intervention presents obstacles. In-person recruitment was the most successful strategy; establishing close relationships with providers, clinic staff, social service providers, and study participants was essential to successful recruitment and retention.
PMCID: PMC3592785  PMID: 23469765
22.  Physical Activity and Excess Weight in Pregnancy Have Independent and Unique Effects on Delivery and Perinatal Outcomes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94532.
This study examines the effect of low daily physical activity levels and overweight/obesity in pregnancy on delivery and perinatal outcomes.
A prospective cohort study combining manually collected postnatal notes with anonymised data linkage. A total of 466 women sampled from the Growing Up in Wales: Environments for Healthy Living study. Women completed a questionnaire and were included in the study if they had an available Body mass index (BMI) (collected at 12 weeks gestation from antenatal records) and/or a physical activity score during pregnancy (7-day Actigraph reading). The full statistical model included the following potential confounding factors: maternal age, parity and smoking status. Main outcome measures included induction rates, duration of labour, mode of delivery, infant health and duration of hospital stay.
Mothers with lower physical activity levels were more likely to have an instrumental delivery (including forceps, ventouse and elective and emergency caesarean) in comparison to mothers with higher activity levels (adjusted OR:1.72(95%CI: 1.05 to 2.9)). Overweight/obese mothers were more likely to require an induction (adjusted OR:1.93 (95%CI 1.14 to 3.26), have a macrosomic baby (adjusted OR:1.96 (95%CI 1.08 to 3.56) and a longer hospital stay after delivery (adjusted OR:2.69 (95%CI 1.11 to 6.47).
The type of delivery was associated with maternal physical activity level and not BMI. Perinatal outcomes (large for gestational age only) were determined by maternal BMI.
PMCID: PMC3983184  PMID: 24722411
23.  Television viewing and sleep are associated with overweight among urban and semi-urban South Indian children 
Nutrition Journal  2007;6:25.
Childhood obesity is an emerging problem in urban Indian children and increases in childhood overweight and obesity may be major contributors to the adult obesity epidemic. Thus, identifying potential risk factors for childhood obesity and formulating early interventions is crucial in the management of the obesity epidemic. The present study was aimed at evaluating dietary and physical activity patterns as determinants of overweight in a sample of children.
Five hundred and ninety eight children aged 6–16 years, visiting St. John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore City, India for minor complaints or routine checkups were recruited into the study. These children were studied for their physical activity patterns, sleep duration, sedentary habits and eating behaviours as potential determinants of overweight.
Decreased duration of sleep and increased television viewing were significantly associated with overweight. Among the eating behaviours, increased consumption of fried foods was significantly associated with overweight.
Our data suggests that duration of sleep, television viewing and consumption of fried foods may be significant factors that contribute to overweight. Further longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC2034573  PMID: 17880729
24.  A complex intervention to improve pregnancy outcome in obese women; the UPBEAT randomised controlled trial 
Despite the widespread recognition that obesity in pregnant women is associated with adverse outcomes for mother and child, there is no intervention proven to reduce the risk of these complications. The primary aim of this randomised controlled trial is to assess in obese pregnant women, whether a complex behavioural intervention, based on changing diet (to foods with a lower glycemic index) and physical activity, will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) and delivery of a large for gestational age (LGA) infant. A secondary aim is to determine whether the intervention lowers the long term risk of obesity in the offspring.
Multicentre randomised controlled trial comparing a behavioural intervention designed to improve glycemic control with standard antenatal care in obese pregnant women.
Inclusion criteria; women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and a singleton pregnancy between 15+0 weeks and 18+6 weeks’ gestation. Exclusion criteria; pre-defined, pre-existing diseases and multiple pregnancy. Randomisation is on-line by a computer generated programme and is minimised by BMI category, maternal age, ethnicity, parity and centre. Intervention; this is delivered by a health trainer over 8 sessions. Based on control theory, with elements of social cognitive theory, the intervention is designed to improve maternal glycemic control. Women randomised to the control arm receive standard antenatal care until delivery according to local guidelines. All women have a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test at 27+0- 28+6 weeks’ gestation.
Primary outcome; Maternal: diagnosis of GDM, according to the International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group (IADPSG) criteria. Neonatal; infant LGA defined as >90th customised birth weight centile.
Sample size; 1546 women to provide 80% power to detect a 25% reduction in the incidence of GDM and a 30% reduction in infants large for gestational age.
All aspects of this protocol have been evaluated in a pilot randomised controlled trial, with subsequent optimisation of the intervention. The findings of this trial will inform whether lifestyle mediated improvement of glycemic control in obese pregnant women can minimise the risk of pregnancy complications.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials; ISRCTN89971375.
PMCID: PMC3938821  PMID: 24533897
Study protocol; Pregnancy; Obesity; Complex intervention; Randomised controlled trial; Glycemic index; Physical activity; Gestational diabetes; Large for gestational age
25.  Active Mothers Postpartum (AMP): Rationale, Design, and Baseline Characteristics 
Journal of Women's Health  2008;17(10):1567-1575.
Pregnancy and the postpartum period have been suggested as important contributors to overweight and obesity among women. This paper presents the design, rationale, and baseline participant characteristics of a randomized controlled intervention trial to enhance weight loss in postpartum women who entered pregnancy overweight or obese.
Active Mothers Postpartum (AMP) is based on the rationale that the birth of a child can be a teachable moment. AMP's primary objectives are to promote and sustain a reduction in body mass index (BMI) up to 2 years postpartum via changes in diet and exercise behavior, with a secondary aim to assess racial differences in these outcomes. Women in the intervention arm participate in ten physical activity group sessions, eight healthy eating classes, and six telephone counseling sessions over a 9-month period. They also receive motivational tools, including a workbook with recipes and exercises, a pedometer, and a sport stroller.
Four hundred fifty women aged ≥18 (mean 30.9), with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 (mean 33.0) at baseline (6 weeks postpartum) were enrolled; 45% of the final sample are black and 53% are white. Baseline characteristics by study arm and by race are presented.
Our intervention is designed to be disseminated broadly to benefit the public health. Behavior change interventions based on principles of social cognitive theory, stage of readiness, and other models that coincide with a teachable moment, such as the birth of a child, could be important motivators for postpartum weight loss.
PMCID: PMC2945831  PMID: 19049350

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