The effect of a diet and exercise intervention on body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors in postpartum women

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elyse A. Shearer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Cheryl Lovelady

Abstract: Obesity among women is a public health problem in the United States. Pregnancy may be one of the causes of this, with 56% of women of childbearing age being overweight or obese. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy and postpartum weight retention may increase a woman’s risk of obesity and chronic disease later in life. Moderate calorie restriction and exercise interventions have been shown to reduce body weight and improve body composition during the postpartum period. While weight loss interventions have been successful, high attrition rates limit the widespread effectiveness of these interventions. Furthermore, there is a lack of research examining the effects of a weight loss program on cardiometabolic risk factors in this population. Therefore, the primary aim of the studies in this dissertation were: 1) To determine the effect of a diet and exercise intervention on weight, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk factors, 2) to improve lifestyle behaviors through improved diet quality and cardiovascular fitness, and 3) to describe the relationship between chronic inflammation and bone mineral density (BMD) in overweight and obese postpartum women. The first study concluded that a home-based diet and exercise program resulted in greater reductions in weight, waist circumference, sagittal diameter, and abdominal fat mass compared to a control group. Additionally, the intervention resulted in a significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness. The second study concluded that the intervention improved triglyceride concentrations, decreased insulin resistance, and improved metabolic syndrome risk factors. Finally, the third study concluded that the intervention resulted in less loss of BMD at the total body and hip and less loss of BMC at the hip, lumbar spine, and femoral neck after controlling for lactation status and weeks postpartum at baseline. Change in cardiovascular fitness was a predictor of change in total hip and femoral neck BMD, while change in inflammation was a predictor of change in total body BMD. These results suggest that a home-based, diet and exercise intervention is effective in improving body composition, cardiovascular fitness, and some cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight and obese postpartum women. Additionally, moderate aerobic activity may attenuate bone loss during a weight loss program.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Bone mineral density, Inflammation, Metabolic syndrome, Physical Activity, Postpartum, Weight loss
Obesity in women
Puerperium $x Nutritional aspects
Weight loss
Exercise for women
Physical fitness for women

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