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Matern Child Health J. 2008 Jan;12(1):119-27. Epub 2007 Jun 7.

Weight loss programs for urban-based, postpartum African-American women: perceived barriers and preferred components.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.



There are currently 1.85 million reproductive-aged women in the United States with diabetes or glucose intolerance. While it is known that postpartum weight retention can lead to obesity and diabetes, particularly among African-American women, little is known about African-American women's preferences for postpartum weight loss programs. Our objective was to explore urban-based African-American women's attitudes toward weight gain, perceived barriers to postpartum weight loss, and preferences for weight intervention strategies.


Focus groups of pregnant African-American women (n = 22) were conducted by a race-concordant moderator. Open-ended questions were posed to stimulate discussions which were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions were independently reviewed by two investigators who extracted quotations and coded each statement to identify major themes.


The median age of participants was 26 years. Median pre-pregnancy or first trimester body-mass index was 31 kg/m(2). Fifty-seven percent of the women were multiparous and 68% were Medicaid recipients. We identified 16 themes with the majority of participant comments focused on: (1) effect of postpartum depression on motivation to lose weight; (2) strong desire to lose weight; (3) knowledge of adverse effects of obesity; (4) costs of weight loss programs; (5) negative impact of media coverage of successful celebrity postpartum weight loss; (6) limitations of childcare on ability to exercise; and (7) family-centered lifestyle behaviors that promote unhealthy eating.


Weight loss interventions for African-American women with postpartum obesity should address psychological effects of childbearing, affordability, and perceptions of body image. Interventions should incorporate family-centered approaches and weight loss maintenance strategies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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