Helping women lose weight after pregnancy

Our researchers are investigating whether women who are given lifestyle advice and access to Slimming World for 12 weeks have lost weight 12 months after giving birth.
  • Author's list

    Professor Debra Bick, Mr Paul Seed, Professor Lucilla Poston, Dr Eugene O’teng N’tim

This project is now complete

Why do we need this research?

Some women struggle to lose weight after giving birth, particularly if they smoke, have a poor diet, do not exercise regularly or choose to bottle feed.

Weight retention after birth can lead to long-term obesity, and is linked to the development of high-blood pressure, diabetes or degenerative joint diseases. Women are also more likely to have complications in future pregnancies if they have not lost their pregnancy weight within six months of giving birth.

We need to find the best way to help women lose weight after pregnancy, to help give them and their children the best chance of a healthy life.

What happened in this project?

Our researchers want to find out whether a weight management programme is effective at helping women lose weight and improve their lifestyle after giving birth. As a first step to doing this, they set up a small trial called the SWAN study, to find out whether their approach would be feasible, and whether women would be willing to take part in such a trial.

The team invited nearly 200 overweight or obese women from an ethnically diverse inner-city population to take part in the SWAN study. Half of the women were given normal care, and the other half were offered a weight management programme which included lifestyle advice and access to a local Slimming World group for 12 weeks.

The results showed that women were happy to take part in the trial and be offered the weight management programme. The researchers found that women offered the weight management programme saw an 13% reduction in their weight, compared to 4.2% weight reduction among women offered normal care. Women who attended at least 10 Slimming World sessions saw the biggest benefit. The results are promising but need to be confirmed in a larger study in the future.

What difference will this project make?

Our researchers are planning another, larger study that should definitively confirm whether giving women lifestyle advice and access to Slimming World for 12 weeks is a cost-effective way of helping them lose weight after pregnancy.

Thanks for your interest in our research

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.