Obesity – a significant preconception risk factor

November 22, 2018

Obesity is a significant preconception risk factor, it can increase the risk of many major negative maternal and perinatal (the period before and after birth) outcomes1. Obesity of the mother and father severely increases the risk of the child having non-communicable diseases (also known as chronic diseases, these cannot be transmitted like the flu or STIs but are due to a combination of genetics, physiology, environment and behaviour and tend to last a long time2). These non-communicable diseases can be type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma or endometrial cancer for example. Male obesity has also been linked to decreased fertility- this affects the sperm quality and quantity.

In 2000 21% of women and men in the world were obese, 16 years later 24% of men were obese and 23% of women were obese3. Considering this and the increase of the world population from 6.1 billion to almost 6.5 billion4, this poses a major problem for the health of babies being born. As the number of obese individuals around the world increases so will the number of children susceptible to non-communicable diseases.

This is why it is essential for individuals to increase their health before conceiving and during pregnancy. Not only will this help you but it will also give your child a better chance at a better health.

For more information about planning a pregnancy:


  1. Public Health England. ‘Health Matters: Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Planning’. GOV.UK. Accessed 3 September 2018. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-reproductive-health-and-pregnancy-planning/health-matters-reproductive-health-and-pregnancy-planning.
  2. ‘Non Communicable Diseases Definition’. World Health Organization. Accessed 20 September 2018. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases.
  3. ‘Obesity Prevalence by Gender in England 2000-2016 | Statistic’. Statista. Accessed 20 September 2018. https://www.statista.com/statistics/334126/obesity-prevalence-by-gender-in-england-uk/.
  4. ‘World Population by Year – Worldometers’. Accessed 20 September 2018. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-by-year/.