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Journal of Pregnancy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 470247, 33 pages
Review Article

Preventing Long-Term Risk of Obesity for Two Generations: Prenatal Physical Activity Is Part of the Puzzle

1R. Samuel McLaughlin Foundation Exercise and Pregnancy Laboratory, School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 3K7
2Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 3K7
3Children’s Health Research Institute, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 3K7

Received 22 August 2012; Accepted 4 October 2012

Academic Editor: Riitta Luoto

Copyright © 2012 Stephanie-May Ruchat and Michelle F. Mottola. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The period surrounding pregnancy has been identified as a risk period for overweight/obesity in both mother and child because of excessive gestational weight gain (GWG). The promotion of a healthy GWG is therefore of paramount importance in the context of the prevention of obesity in the current and next generations. Objective. To provide a comprehensive overview of the effect of prenatal physical activity interventions, alone or in combination with nutritional counselling, on GWG and to address whether preventing excessive GWG decreases the incidence of infant high birth weight and/or postpartum weight retention. Method. A search of the PubMed database was conducted to identify all relevant studies. Nineteen studies were included in this review: 13 interventions combining physical activity, nutrition, and GWG counselling and 6 interventions including physical activity alone. Results. Prenatal lifestyle interventions promoting healthy eating and physical activity habits appear to be the most effective approach to prevent excessive GWG. Achievement of appropriate GWG may also decrease the incidence of high infant birth weight and postpartum weight retention. Conclusion. Healthy eating habits during pregnancy, combined with an active lifestyle, may be important elements in the prevention of long-term risk of obesity for two generations.