Expanding our understanding and use of the ecological systems theory model for the prevention of maternal obesity: A new socioecological framework

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The reproductive life phase, most notably the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods, is a key driver of weight gain in women and therefore substantially increases the risk of noncommunicable diseases for mothers and their offspring. The ecological systems theory (EST) model for maternal obesity prevention positions the woman and her behaviour as interacting with surrounding layers of influences, including proximal interpersonal relationships embedded within social, environmental, and policy contexts. However, current thinking and use of the EST model for maternal obesity prevention are limited by a focus on women as being responsible for lifestyle change, with the associated blame and weight stigma, and by a lack of understanding of the interactions between EST layers. This paper presents a new socioecological framework for maternal obesity prevention, which aims to address these issues and offer potential strategies to assist researchers to generate new knowledge and understanding of the myriad ways we can approach maternal obesity prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13147
Number of pages7
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • ecological systems theory
  • maternal obesity
  • weight stigma

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