The role of health literacy in postpartum weight, diet, and physical activity

Rhonda Garad, Crystal McPhee, Tze Lin Chai, Lisa Moran, Sharleen O’reilly, Siew Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Postpartum weight retention is a significant contributor to obesity in women, adverse perinatal events in subsequent pregnancies, and chronic disease risk. Health literacy is known to impact health behaviors. The study aimed to identify the health literacy domains utilized in postpartum weight management interventions and to determine their impact on weight, diet and physical activity in postpartum women. Methods: We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PSYCINFO, and EBM databases. We included random control trials of lifestyle intervention in postpartum women (within two years post-delivery) published up to 3 May 2019. Subgroup analyses were performed to determine the effect of health literacy domains on outcomes. Results: Out of 5000 studies, 33 studies (n = 3905) were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis. The health literacy domain self-care (skills and knowledge) was associated with a significant reduction in body weight (mean difference (MD) −2.46 kg; 95% confidence interval (CI) from −3.65 to −1.27) and increase in physical activity (standardized mean difference (SMD) 0.61; 95% CI 0.20 to 1.02). No other health literacy domain was associated with significant outcomes in weight, energy intake, or physical activity. Conclusions: Health literacy skills such as knowledge of self-care are effective in improving weight and in increasing physical activity in postpartum women. The efficacy of other health domains was not supported.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2463
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Diet
  • Health literacy
  • Physical activity
  • Postpartum
  • Prevention
  • Weight
  • Women

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