The role of social networks in the development and maintenance of maternal obesity

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Maternal obesity is a growing public health issue, with one in five pregnant women classified as obese in the UK. Interventions to date have had modest impact on clinical outcomes. These have mainly focused on individual behaviour change and have methodological limitations.

There is growing evidence on the importance of social networks for obesity-risk behaviours. There are few trials using social networks to reduce maternal obesity and very few qualitative studies exploring social network influences on weight management in pregnancy and postpartum. 

As part of this PhD study, we will explore the role of social networks in the development and maintenance of obesity in pregnancy and postpartum. We will also review current evidence related to interventions to help women manage their weight during pregnancy and/or postpartum, and take learning from this to inform the development of an intervention. The study aims to:

  • Complete a systematic review to investigate available interventions using social networks for weight management in pregnant and postpartum women  
  • Explore the weight management experiences and the influences of social networks of first-time pregnant and postpartum women
  • Explore the social networks of interview participants to try to understand how these might be used to help them in their weight management attempts
  • Develop initial ideas for a theory-based intervention to support weight related behaviour change for pregnant and postpartum women that are overweight or obese.

Further information if you would like to participate in the study.

If you would like to find out more about our study, please contact Bernardette Bonello on 0141 353 7500 or email


PhD researcher: Bernardette Bonello     

Lead Supervisor: Sharon Simpson         

PhD supervisor: Lynsay Matthews          

PhD supervisor: Jennifer Logue

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