Television, Walking, and Diet

Excess weight retention after pregnancy is considered to be particularly harmful to women because the additional weight is more likely to be centrally deposited. Such weight gain is tightly linked to insulin resistance and increased cardiovascular disease. This study examined the associations of television viewing, physical activity (especially walking) and diet in the early postpartum period with substantial weight retention one year postpartum. Of the 902 women included in the study, 21 percent were non-white including 8 percent African American and 5 percent Hispanic. The mean weight retention of all mothers was 0.6 kg. The women who retained at least 5 kg were younger, heavier before pregnancy, more likely to be non-white, unmarried and had lower income levels.

The researchers defined beneficial behaviors postpartum as low trans fat intake, viewing television less than two hours a day and walking 30 minutes daily. Women who reported all three beneficial behaviors had a markedly reduced risk of retaining weight greater than 5 kg. The study suggests that interventions designed to modify behaviors may help reduce postpartum weight gain and prevent obesity among mothers.