Socioeconomic Differences in Weight Retention, Weight-related Attitudes and Practices in Postpartum Women

  • Vanessa A. Shrewsbury
  • Kathryn A. Robb
  • Chris Power
  • Jane Wardle


Objective To determine if there is a socioeconomic status (SES) gradient in postpartum weight retention in women living in the UK, and examine SES differences in weight-related attitudes and practices in the postpartum period. Methods Women (n = 2745) who had full-term live births between July and December 1999 in four London hospitals were eligible to participate in this self-report postal questionnaire study. The questionnaire included items on socio-demographic characteristics, pre-pregnancy weight, postpartum height and weight, pregnancy weight gain and duration, and postpartum weight-related attitudes (body image and weight beliefs) and practices (weight control and weight monitoring). Education was used as the indicator of SES. Results Questionnaires were returned by 954 women (35%) on average eight months postpartum. Median postpartum weight retention was 2.7 kg and was significantly higher in the medium and lower SES women (3.2 kg) than higher SES women (1.8 kg) despite no difference in pregnancy weight gain. A greater proportion of higher SES women believed they would return to their pre-pregnant weight, and they engaged in more frequent weight monitoring. There were no SES differences in body dissatisfaction or the proportion of women trying to lose weight postpartum. Conclusion In the postpartum period, women of higher SES retained less weight than women of lower SES. There were also differences in weight-related attitudes and frequency of weight monitoring across SES groups.


Body weight changes Postpartum period Socioeconomic factors 



This research was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant. Vanessa A. Shrewsbury, Kathryn A. Robb and Jane Wardle are supported by funding from Cancer Research UK. We thank the women who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanessa A. Shrewsbury
    • 1
  • Kathryn A. Robb
    • 1
  • Chris Power
    • 2
  • Jane Wardle
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and BiostatisticsInstitute of Child HealthLondonUK

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