OBEAT

OBEAT – Beating Obesity: A Feasibility stud

OBEAT is expected to improve our understanding of the role of chronic stress during pregnancy in relation to early weight gain and childhood obesity.

OBEAT assesses the feasibility of an intervention that can help reduce chronic stress during pregnancy and thus reduce the risk of childhood overweight.

Stress is a public health problem with serious consequences and can lead to poor sleep, unhealthy diets and reduced physical activity. Pregnancy can be a fragile period where anxiety and insecurity can lead to stress with subsequent health consequences for both mother and the unborn child.

Pregnant women with high scores of perceived stress have an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and high blood pressure during pregnancy. In addition, stress can result in preterm birth, low birth weight and mental and behavioural problems in the child later in life. Some studies have shown that stress and thus reduced sleep during pregnancy can lead to the development of overweight for both mother and child.

So far, it has not been investigated whether stress management during pregnancy will reduce the risk of developing obesity among mothers and their children.

Method

OBEAT is a non-blinded randomized controlled feasibility study of a future larger study with the aim to investigate the effect of a resilience building and stress-reducing intervention during pregnancy to prevent overweight in childhood.

For a period of 3 months in the spring of 2019, 120 normal-weight, non-vulnerable first-time mothers at Hvidovre Hospital will be randomized to either 1) an internet-based, resilience-building and stress-reducing program from the Danish Committee for Health Education or 2) a control group with standard antenatal care.

Data

We will do both effect- and process evaluations using

  • Questionnaires regarding dietary, activity and sleep habits, stress, resilience, and demographic information (baseline and follow-up).
  • Hair samples from children and parents to determine the level of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Weight, length and gestational age of the infant at birth and after two months.
  • Log files of participants’ use of the resilience program

In addition, a number of qualitative focus group interviews will be conducted during and after pregnancy . In these focus group interviews we will investigate:

  • The participants’ perception of their life situation in relation to stress, worry, sleep, diet and physical activity
  • How the intervention should be composed
  • How to incorporate the work of midwives in the project
  • Participants’ use and satisfaction with the intervention

The results of the effect- and process evaluations will be implemented in the planning of a larger randomized study with sufficient statistical strength to assess the effect of intervention on child overweight.

The study is conducted in collaboration with the Gynaecological Obstetric Department at Hvidovre Hospital.