Factors Associated With Postpartum Weight Retention in African Women: A Systematic Review

Jahdiel Kossou, Halimatou Alaofè, Waliou Amoussa Hounkpatin, Jaurès Lokonon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The obesity epidemic among women in Africa is a health problem, and many studies attribute it to childbearing. However, most studies of postpartum weight retention (PPWR) occur in high-income countries. Objective: Therefore, this review sought to identify the potential factors affecting PPWR among African women. Methods: Four databases were searched from January 2000 to December 2020: Medline/PubMed, Google scholar, Ajol research, FreeFullPDF. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Newcastle Ottawa Scale. Results: Fifteen studies (5 from west, 4 from south, 3 from east, 2 from central, and 1 from north) were included: 8 cohort and 7 prospective cohort studies. Two studies examined the effect of obesity and weight gain during pregnancy on PPWR, 3 studies assessed the effect of childbirth, 4 examined the effect of breastfeeding, 4 assessed the impact of morbidities such as HIV, and 2 looked at food insecurity. Five studies demonstrated that postpartum weight is due to residual pregnancy weight gain and childbirth weight gain and is accentuated as parity increases (n = 2). Breastfeeding has a controversial effect, while morbidity (n = 4) and food insecurity (n = 4) contributed to weight loss. The variation in weight was also influenced by cultural practices (n = 1), prepregnancy weight (n = 1), and socioeconomic status (n = 1). On all domains, only 3 included studies were of good quality. Conclusions: Pregnancy weight gain, childbirth, breastfeeding, morbidity, and food insecurity were associated with PPWR. However, preexisting factors must be considered when developing PPWR modification strategies. In addition, due to the limited number of studies included, robust conclusions cannot be drawn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-75
Number of pages14
JournalFood and Nutrition Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Africa
  • breastfeeding women
  • postpartum period
  • pregnancy
  • weight retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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