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Determinants of postpartum physical activity, dietary habits and weight loss after gestational diabetes mellitus



Barbara Kaiser

Haute Ecole de Santé

47 Avenue de Champel

1206 Geneva





To describe the most significant findings of the studies that examined the prevalence and determinants of postpartum health behaviours (physical activity, dietary habits and/or weight loss) in patients with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).


Patients with gestational diabetes have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the months after delivery. For this reason, GDM patients are encouraged to practice specific health behaviours during the postpartum period. It is important to identify the factors that may impact the adherence to these behaviours.


Eighteen published research articles that examined postpartum health behaviours and/or their potential determinants in women diagnosed with GDM were selected from electronic databases.

Key issues

Physical activity and diet rarely meet the recommendations. Risk perception, health beliefs, social support and self-efficacy are the main factors identified as having an impact on the adoption of health behaviours. However, the cross-sectional nature of the studies and the lack of social, geographical and/or ethnic variety in the populations studied do not allow us to generalize the conclusions.

Implications for nursing management

This literature review reports all the information currently available that can enable nurses and midwives to engage in the evaluation and optimization of their interventions in GDM patients. Motivational interventions based on Social Cognitive Theory are proposed.