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Maternal obesity is a major risk factor for adverse health outcomes for both the mother and the child, including the serious public health problem of childhood obesity which is globally on the rise. Given the relatively intensive contact with health/care professionals following birth, the interpregnancy period provides a golden opportunity to focus on preconception and family health, and to introduce interventions that support mothers to achieve or maintain a healthy weight in preparation for their next pregnancy. In this review, we summarise the evidence on the association between interpregnancy weight gain with birth and obesity outcomes in the offspring. Gaining weight between pregnancies is associated with an increased risk of large-for-gestational age (LGA) birth, a predictor of childhood obesity, and weight loss between pregnancies in women with overweight or obesity seems protective against recurrent LGA. Interpregnancy weight loss seems to be negatively associated with birthweight. There is some suggestion that interpregnancy weight change may be associated with preterm birth, but the mechanisms are unclear and the direction depends if it is spontaneous or indicated. There is limited evidence on the direct positive link between maternal interpregnancy weight gain with gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension and obesity or overweight in childhood, with no studies using adult offspring adiposity outcomes. Improving preconception health and optimising weight before pregnancy could contribute to tackling the rise in childhood obesity. Research testing the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of interventions to optimise maternal weight and health during this period is needed, particularly in high-risk and disadvantaged groups.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Nutr Soc

Publication Date





272 - 282


Obesity, Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth Weight, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Obesity, Pediatric Obesity, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Premature Birth, Weight Gain, Weight Loss