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Background The prevalence of obesity, an important cardiometabolic risk factor, is rising in women. Lifestyle improvements are the first step in treatment of obesity, but the success depends on factors like timing and motivation. Women are especially receptive to advice about lifestyle before and during pregnancy. Therefore, we hypothesize that the pre-pregnancy period provides the perfect window of opportunity to improve cardiometabolic health and quality of life of obese infertile women, by means of a lifestyle intervention. Methods and findings Between 2009–2012, 577 infertile women between 18 and 39 years of age, with a Body Mass Index of 29 kg/m2, were randomized to a six month lifestyle intervention preceding infertility treatment, or to direct infertility treatment. The goal of the intervention was 5–10% weight loss or a BMI < 29 kg/m2. Cardiometabolic outcomes included weight, waist- and hip circumference, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose and insulin, HOMA-IR, hs-CRP, lipids and metabolic syndrome. All outcomes were measured by research nurses at randomization, 3 and 6 months. Self-reported quality of life was also measured at 12 months. Three participants withdrew their informed consent, and 63 participants discontinued the intervention program. Intention to treat analysis was conducted. Mixed effects regression models analyses were performed. Results are displayed as estimated mean differences between intervention and control group. Weight (-3.1 kg 95% CI: -4.0 to -2.2 kg; P < .001), waist circumference (-2.4 cm 95% CI: -3.6 to -1.1 cm; P < .001), hip circumference (-3.0 95% CI: -4.2 to -1.9 cm; P < .001), BMI (-1.2 kg/m2 95% CI: -1.5 to -0.8 kg/m2; P < .001), systolic blood pressure (-2.8 mmHg 95% CI: -5.0 to -0.7 mmHg; P = .01) and HOMA-IR (-0.5 95% CI: -0.8 to -0.1; P = .01) were lower in the intervention group compared to controls. Hs-CRP and lipids did not differ between groups. The odds ratio for metabolic syndrome in the intervention group was 0.53 (95% CI: 0.33 to 0.85; P < .01) compared to controls. Physical QoL scores were higher in the lifestyle intervention group (2.2 95% CI: 0.9 to 3.5; P = .001) while mental QoL scores did not differ. Conclusions In obese infertile women, a lifestyle intervention prior to infertility treatment improves cardiometabolic health and self-reported physical quality of life (LIFEstyle study: Netherlands Trial Register: NTR1530).
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