Psychosocial risk factors for excessive gestational weight gain: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have adverse health outcomes for mother and infant throughout pregnancy. However, few studies have identified the psychosocial factors that contribute to women gaining excessive weight during pregnancy.


    To review the existing literature that explores the impact of psychosocial risk factors (psychological distress, body image dissatisfaction, social support, self-efficacy and self-esteem) on excessive gestational weight gain.


    A systematic review of peer-reviewed English articles using Academic Search Complete, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, MEDLINE Complete, PsycINFO, Informit, Web of Science, and Scopus was conducted. Quantitative studies that investigated psychosocial factors of excessive GWG, published between 2000 and 2014 were included. Studies investigating mothers with a low risk of mental health issues and normally-developing foetuses were eligible for inclusion. From the total of 474 articles located, 12 articles were identified as relevant and were subsequently reviewed in full.


    Significant associations were found between depression, body image dissatisfaction, and social support with excessive gestational weight gain. No significant relationships were reported between anxiety, stress, self-efficacy, or self-esteem and excessive gestational weight gain.


    The relationship between psychosocial factors and weight gain in pregnancy is complex; however depression, body dissatisfaction and social support appear to have a direct relationship with excessive gestational weight gain. Further research is needed to identify how screening for, and responding to, psychosocial risk factors for excessive gestational weight gain can be successfully incorporated into current antenatal care.


  • Hartley, Eliza
  • McPhie, Skye
  • Skouteris, Helen
  • Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Matthew
  • Hill, Briony

publication date

  • 2015