Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 109–118

Childbearing, Stress and Obesity Disparities in Women: A Public Health Perspective

  • Esa M. Davis
  • Kurt C. Stange
  • Ralph I. Horwitz

DOI: 10.1007/s10995-010-0712-6

Cite this article as:
Davis, E.M., Stange, K.C. & Horwitz, R.I. Matern Child Health J (2012) 16: 109. doi:10.1007/s10995-010-0712-6


The perinatal period, from early in the first trimester to 1 year postpartum, provides opportunities for novel public health interventions to reduce obesity disparities. We present a unifying socio-biological framework to suggest opportunities for multidisciplinary research and public health approaches to elucidate and target the mechanisms for the development of maternal obesity and related disparities. The framework illustrates the interplay of the social, cultural and physical environment; stress appraisal and response; and coping behaviors on short-term outcomes (e.g. allostatic load and gestational weight gain), the intermediate outcomes of persistent insulin resistance and post-partum weight retention, and longer term outcomes of obesity and its disease consequences. Testing the proposed relationships may provide insights into how childbearing risk factors such as gestational weight gain, postpartum weight retention and parity contribute to obesity, which are needed to inform public health policies and clinical care guidelines aimed at reducing obesity and improving the health of women.


ObesityRacial disparityPregnancy weight gainPostpartum weight retentionMaternal stress

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esa M. Davis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kurt C. Stange
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Ralph I. Horwitz
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology & BiostatisticsCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  5. 5.Case Comprehensive Cancer CenterCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicineStanford UniversityPalo AltoUSA