Changes in Dietary Intake and Body Weight in Lactating and Non-Lactating Women: Prospective Study in Northern Coastal Croatia

Mihela Dujmović, Greta Krešić, Milena L Mandić, Daniela Kenjerić, Olga Cvijanović


Postpartum weight retention is a risk factor for the development of midlife obesity. Since dietary intake and breastfeeding practice could be promoters of weight loss during postpartum, the objective of this study was to investigate their influence on weight retention during six months postpartum. The study sample consisted of 83 lactating and 76 non-lactating Croatian women who were examined at three measurement waves: at 1 month±1 week, 3 months±1 week and 6 months±1 week postpartum. At each measurement wave, two consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls were collected, and body weight measurements were made. Both groups had a daily energy intake lower by about 25% than recommended. Although both groups continuously decreased energy and macronutrient intake, lactating women had energy intake higher by 205 kcal (p=0.048) and 370 kcal (p<0.001) after one and three months, respectively. At six months postpartum lactating women had a higher intake of fat (p=0.036) but a lower intake of protein (p=0.009) compared with non-lactating mothers. After six months, lactating women retained 101.9% of pre-pregnancy weight, which was significantly less than the percentage of weight retained among non-lactating women (p=0.014). Multiple regression analysis  showed that weight retention were predicted by: type of feeding (β=-0.281; p<0.001), and time since parturition (β =-0.151; p<0.001), while gestational weight gain (β=0.491; p<0.001), energy intake (β=0.157; p<0.001) and energy derived from fat (β=0.122; p=0.035)were positive predictors. We concluded that the dietary intake of Croatian women and breastfeeding practice over six months significantly influence their weight loss.  


dietary intake, gestational weight gain, lactation, weight retention, postpartum period

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