Send to

Choose Destination
Obes Rev. 2020 Jan 19. doi: 10.1111/obr.12959. [Epub ahead of print]

Becoming a parent: A systematic review and meta-analysis of changes in BMI, diet, and physical activity.

Author information

UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK.


Obesity prevalence rises fastest during young adulthood when weight, diet, and physical activity may be influenced by life events, including becoming a parent, but the impact is uncertain. We searched six electronic databases to July 2019 for longitudinal studies (both sexes) aged 15 to 35 years with a prospective pre-pregnancy/parenthood and post-delivery outcome. Of 11 studies (across 15 papers), six studies (women only) were eligible for meta-analysis of the difference in change in body mass index (BMI; kg/m2 ) between remaining without children and becoming a parent. Mean (±SD) BMI gain for non-mothers was 2.8 ± 1.3 kg/m2 (~7.5 kg for 164-cm woman) over 5.6 ± 3.1 years; 12.3% of baseline BMI (22.8 ± 2.5 kg/m2 ). Becoming a mother was associated with an additional BMI increase of 0.47 ± 0.26 kg/m2 (~1.3 kg), 4.3% of baseline BMI (22.8 ± 5.6 kg/m2 ); the one study including men reported no difference in change. Physical activity results were equivocal; 2/4 studies (women) and 2/2 (men) showed a greater decline in parents versus non-parents; diet (three studies) varied by dietary measure, mostly indicating no difference. Becoming a mother is associated with 17% greater absolute BMI gain than remaining childless. Motherhood BMI gain is additional to an alarming BMI increase among young women, highlighting the need for obesity prevention among all young women, including mothers.


emerging adulthood; mother; overweight; weight gain


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center