Open Access Open Badges Research

Reducing postpartum weight retention – a pilot trial in primary health care

Tarja I Kinnunen1*, Matti Pasanen1, Minna Aittasalo1, Mikael Fogelholm12, Elisabete Weiderpass345 and Riitta Luoto16

Author Affiliations

1 UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, PO Box 30, 33501 Tampere, Finland

2 Research Unit, Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, Finland

3 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Department of Etiological Research, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway

5 Department of Genetical Epidemiology, Folkhalsan Research Center, Samfundet Folkhälsan, Helsinki, Finland

6 Tampere School of Public Health, the University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

For all author emails, please log on.

Nutrition Journal 2007, 6:21  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-21

Published: 10 September 2007



Postpartum weight retention may contribute to the development of obesity. We studied whether individual counselling on diet and physical activity from 2 to 10 months postpartum has positive effects on diet and leisure time physical activity and increases the proportion of primiparas returning to their pre-pregnancy weight.


A controlled trial including ninety-two postpartum primiparas was conducted in three intervention and three control child health clinics in primary health care in Finland. The intervention included individual counselling on diet and physical activity during five routine visits to a public health nurse; the controls received the usual care.


In total, 50% of the intervention group and 30% of the control group returned to their pre-pregnancy weight (weight retention ≤ 0 kg) by 10 months postpartum (p = 0.06). The confounder-adjusted odds ratio for returning to pre-pregnancy weight was 3.89 (95% CI 1.16–13.04, p = 0.028) for the intervention group compared with the controls. The mean proportion of high-fibre bread (of total weekly amount of bread) increased by 16.1% (95% CI 4.3–27.9) by 10 months postpartum in the intervention group compared with the controls when adjusted for confounders (p = 0.008). No significant differences were observed in changes in leisure time physical activity between the groups.


The intervention increased the proportion of primiparas returning to pre-pregnancy weight and the proportion of high-fibre bread in their diet. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to show whether counselling can improve dietary and leisure time physical activity habits in postpartum women and also to confirm the results concerning the effect on reducing postpartum weight retention.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN21512277