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The Effectiveness of Weight Management Interventions in Breastfeeding Women—A Systematic Review and Critical Evaluation

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Abstract

Background

The postpartum period is a vulnerable time for excess weight retention, particularly for the increasing number of women who are overweight at the start of their pregnancy and subsequently find it difficult to lose additional weight gained during pregnancy. Although postpartum weight management interventions play an important role in breaking this potentially vicious cycle of weight gain, the effectiveness of such interventions in breastfeeding women remains unclear. Our aim was to systematically review the literature about the effectiveness of weight management interventions in breastfeeding women.

Methods

Seven electronic databases were searched for eligible papers. Intervention studies included were carried out exclusively in breastfeeding mothers, ≤2 years postpartum and with a body mass index greater than 18.5 kg/m2, with an outcome measure of change in weight and/or body composition.

Results

Six studies met the selection criteria, and were stratified according to the type of intervention and outcome measures. Despite considerable heterogeneity among studies, the dietary-based intervention studies appeared to be the most efficacious in promoting weight loss; however, few studies were tailored toward the needs of breastfeeding women.

Conclusions

Weight management interventions which include an energy-restricted diet may play a key role in successful postpartum weight loss for breastfeeding mothers.

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