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Poorer women more likely to be obese after childbirth

Lower household income, smoking and lower levels of breastfeeding are all contributory factors.

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DISADVANTAGED WOMEN ARE are 42 per cent more likely than those in the highest income group to be obese following childbirth, according to a new study.

It shows that lower household income, smoking, lower levels of breastfeeding and early completion of education are all factors that can contribute to ‘postpartum obesity’.

More than 10,000 mothers living in Ireland took part in the study, which was carried out by UCD and the Economic & Social Research Institute as part of the Growing Up in Ireland project.

The results should lead to changes in the way public health campaigns are delivered, according to Professor Michael Turner of the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction:

“The study shows that public health interventions related to obesity in women with children should be tailored and targeted towards high-risk groups; particularly those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.”

The professor said levels of obesity post-childbirth varied considerably across different income groups, adding:

“For instance, while the study shows that increased parity (the number of times a women gives birth) amongst poorer women is associated with greater levels of obesity, we found no such association amongst more affluent women.”

Tackling the problem is becoming increasingly important due to the link between obesity and complications in pregnancy, according to the ESRI’s Professor Richard Layte:

“Pregnancy can be a turning point in lifetime health risks and this research shows that such risks are more concentrated among lower income women.”

He said future studies should investigate why this pattern occurs and what interventions may prevent it.

Read: How poor countries are now facing obesity problems >

Read: HSE childhood obesity services “sparse or non-existent” across country >

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