To date, research efforts on excess postpartum weight retention have been largely focused at the individual level. Investigations are needed to determine the factors contributing to ethnic and racial disparities in postpartum weight retention.
Approximately 75% of people who give birth tend to exhibit postpartum weight retention, which is further associated with the risk of disease development. The identification of risks associated with postpartum weight retention in ethnic and racial minorities can aid in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum retention of excess weight.
This study reviewed the existing literature using the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) framework for identifying racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum weight retention. The findings, published in the journal Women’s Health, showed that Hispanic and Black individuals tend to retain excess weight post-pregnancy and that interventions addressing racial and ethnic disparities have limited success.
Biological Domain of Influence
At the individual level, the biological domain of influence targets factors comprising individual mechanisms and vulnerabilities. At the interpersonal level, the relevant factors include the microbiome within the family setting and interactions between the child and caregiver. The current evidence regarding ethnic and racial disparities in postpartum weight retention is focused on individual-level factors. These include genetics, gravidity, body mass index (BMI), stress, gestational weight gain, change in weight postpartum, and postpartum weight retention.
Healthcare Domain of Influence
This domain is pertinent to racial and ethnic health disparities; however, none of the studies in the medical literature have addressed postpartum weight retention in this context.
Sociocultural and Physical Environment Domain of Influence
In the physical environment domain of influence, the factors are categorized into community- and individual-level factors, with the former being associated with racial and ethnic disparities in the medical literature. These factors include exposure to air pollution, neighborhood income and safety, perceived barriers to losing weight, and diet. In the sociocultural environment domain of influence, the studies focused on individual-level, interpersonal, and community-level factors.
Behavioral Domain of Influence
The behavior domain of influence encompasses factors categorized into individual-level, interpersonal, and societal factors, with the majority of the available evidence focusing on the former two factors. The individual-level factors include alcohol consumption, breastfeeding, diet, knowledge, exercise, racism, depression, physical activity, knowledge, stress, tobacco use, sleep, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. The interpersonal factors include depression, child care, cultural norms, the influence of friends and family members, social support, diet, physical activity, medical advice, issues related to weight, and family preferences.
Kent-Marvick, J., Cloyes, K. G., Meek, P., & Simonsen, S. (2023). Racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum weight retention: A narrative review mapping the literature to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Framework. Women’s Health, 19, 174550572311668. https://doi.org/10.1177/17455057231166822