Lose Weight to Boost Pregnancy Ratio

Fertility improved and birth complication risk decreased for obese women who lose weight

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity is known to reduce a woman's fertility as well as increase the risk of complications with a birth, but does that mean losing weight will increase her fertility?

A recent, unpublished study presented at a European conference on obesity, found that it does.

"Get to a healthy weight for increased fertility chances."

Author Kyra Sim, of the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders at the University of Sydney in Australia, and two colleagues recruited 49 women who were getting fertility treatments.

The women, all under age 37, each had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2, which is considered obese.

The women were split into two groups. One was the control group, with 22 women who received recommendations for losing weight and printed materials about weight loss.

The other group included 27 women who participated in a 12-week comprehensive weight loss intervention program. They were put on a very low-energy diet for the first six weeks and then a somewhat low calorie diet for the second six weeks.

The intervention group also attended weekly group meetings with a multidisciplinary program to help them lose weight. The printed materials given to this group were the same materials the control group received.

The researchers took measurements of the women's size and weight and aspects of their cardiometabolic, reproductive and psychological health. There was also a one-year follow-up with the women to see if they had become pregnant.

The group involved in the intervention program lost approximately 14.5 pounds and saw their waist size drop an average 3.4 inches. By comparison, the control group only lost an average of four pounds and just under a half inch from their waistline.

The group who underwent the intervention and lost more weight had a greater number of pregnancies a year later. While 14 percent of the control group women had become pregnant over the next year, 48 percent of the women in the intervention group did.

The researchers also reported improvements in the invention group's cardiometabolic, hormonal and psychological health, and a decrease in the risk factors for the mother and child for a successful, healthy pregnancy and birth.

"A weight-loss intervention, incorporating dietary, exercise and behavioral components, is associated with significant pregnancy and economic outcomes in a group of obese women undergoing assisted reproductive technology," the authors concluded.

The study was presented May 8 at the 19th European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France. The research did not receive external funding, and there were no conflicts of interest were disclosed.

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means other scientists may not have had a chance to review the methods and data to ensure it passes their quality standards.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 11, 2012
Last Updated:
June 6, 2012