Postpartum Weight Loss on the Web

Summary and Comment |
July 25, 2017

Postpartum Weight Loss on the Web

  1. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS

Internet-based weight-loss program helps low-income mothers achieve prepregnancy weight.

  1. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS

Postpartum weight retention and continued weight gain challenge over a quarter of women delivering in the U.S. To test whether an Internet-based weight loss program designed for low-income postpartum women could result in greater weight loss than the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) alone, researchers conducted a 12-month randomized trial enrolling 371 postpartum women at 12 California WIC programs between July 2011 and May 2015.

The intervention lowered total caloric intake but had little effect on physical activity levels. Nonetheless, postpartum women receiving the Web-based program lost significantly more weight over 12 months than those receiving only the WIC program (3.2 kg vs. 0.9 kg). In addition, at 12 months postpartum, waist circumference was 2.8 cm smaller in the intervention group than the WIC-only group (P<0.001). Estimated cost of the program was $276 per participant who received the Web-based intervention.


This Web-based program offers intriguing possibilities for large-scale dissemination. Replication of the findings remains to be done in other populations, but given the long-term health burdens associated with postpartum weight retention — which can result in hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease — I anticipate that this program will be a cost-effective addition to WIC programs in many clinical settings.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS at time of publication Grant / Research support Office of Adolescent Health Editorial boards Contraception; Journal of General Internal Medicine


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