Weight loss before conception: A systematic literature review

  • Elisabet Forsum
  • Anne Lise Brantsæter
  • Anna-Sigrid Olafsdottir
  • Sjurdur F. Olsen
  • Inga Thorsdottir
Keywords: gestational diabetes, large-for-gestational-age-infants, systematic review, weight loss before pregnancy


The prevalence of overweight and obesity in women has increased during the last decades. This is a serious concern since a high BMI before conception is an independent risk factor for many adverse outcomes of pregnancy. Therefore, dietary counseling, intended to stimulate weight loss in overweight and obese women prior to conception has recently been recommended. However, dieting with the purpose to lose weight may involve health risks for mother and offspring. We conducted a systematic literature review to identify papers investigating the effects of weight loss due to dietary interventions before conception. The objective of this study is to assess the effect of weight loss prior to conception in overweight or obese women on a number of health-related outcomes in mother and offspring using studies published between January 2000 and December 2011. Our first literature search produced 486 citations and, based on predefined eligibility criteria, 58 were selected and ordered in full text. Two group members read each paper. Fifteen studies were selected for quality assessment and two of them were considered appropriate for inclusion in evidence tables. A complementary search identified 168 citations with four papers being ordered in full text. The two selected studies provided data for overweight and obese women. One showed a positive effect of weight loss before pregnancy on the risk of gestational diabetes and one demonstrated a reduced risk for large-for-gestationalage infants in women with a BMI above 25 who lost weight before pregnancy. No study investigated the effect of weight loss due to a dietary intervention before conception. There is a lack of studies on overweight and obese women investigating the effect of dietary-induced weight loss prior to conception on health-related variables in mother and offspring. Such studies are probably lacking since they are difficult to conduct. Therefore, alternative strategies to control the body weight of girls and women of reproductive age are needed.

(Published: 13 March 2013)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2013. 57: 20522 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v57i0.20522

Special Issue: This paper is part of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations - The NNR5 project. More papers from this issue can be found at http://www.foodandnutritionresearch.net


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How to Cite
Forsum, E., Brantsæter, A. L., Olafsdottir, A.-S., Olsen, S. F., & Thorsdottir, I. (2013). Weight loss before conception: A systematic literature review. Food & Nutrition Research. https://doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v57i0.20522
Nordic Nutrition Recommendations - The NNR5 project

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