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Shedding Those Pregnancy Pounds

Weekly diet and exercise classes help new moms lose weight

FRIDAY, Feb. 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Weekly classes that provide a structured program of nutrition and exercise education help new mothers shed weight more effectively than a single information session does, claims a Saint Louis University study in the current issue of 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. Those given general advice about diet and exercise do not," principal investigator Mary L. O'Toole, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health, says in a prepared statement.

This study focused on women who were overweight when they became pregnant. The researchers wanted to determine how best to prevent the women from becoming obese after they had their babies.

"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," she says.

The study included 40 new mothers who had gained more than 33 pounds during pregnancy and were more than 11 pounds heavier than before they became pregnant. About half the women attended 12 weekly nutrition and physical activity strategy sessions. The other women received a single 60-minute session on diet and exercise.

The women's weight loss was tracked over a year.

The women who attended the weekly sessions lost an average of 16 pounds, while those who received the single session lost an average of slightly less than 3 pounds.

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about obesity.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, news release, Feb. 20, 2004
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