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The impact of obesity on fertility, pregnancy and beyond

The impact of obesity on fertility, pregnancy and beyond

An event hosted by the All-island Obesity Action Forum supported by safefood, the Association for the Study of Obesity Northern Ireland Network and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland.

Obesity can have implications across the reproductive life course. This event provided an overview of the impact of living with obesity on fertility, pregnancy, postpartum periods, and child health, covering both maternal and paternal obesity. Speakers shared the lived experience of obesity during this time and explored interventions aimed at promoting maternal, paternal and child health.

Watch the recording


00:00 Welcome

01:21 Opening address

12:35 Professor Nicola Heslehurst, Newcastle University
The impact of obesity before, during and after pregnancy on life course health: the importance of having a health inequalities focus

43:25: John Jordan Patient advocate, Northern Ireland
Lived experience

1:12:45: Dr Rosie Dawson, South Tees NHS Trust
The ‘LIFT’ intervention tackling preconception lifestyle change from a different angle

1:39:30: Professor Sharleen O'Reilly, University College Dublin
Nudging new habits: behaviour change for healthy weight management in pregnancy and beyond 

2:00:30: Professor Michelle McKinley, Queen’s University Belfast
Acceptable and scalable support for weight management after pregnancy: the Supporting MumS (SMS) trial

2:26:00: Questions and answer session

2:45:50: Closing remarks


Prof. Michelle McKinley

Prof. Michelle McKinley

Queen’s University Belfast

Michelle McKinley is a Professor of Nutrition at the Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast. Michelle’s research investigates the ability of dietary interventions to modify nutritional status and risk of chronic disease, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as exploring novel approaches to encouraging and supporting diet and lifestyle behaviour change and weight management throughout the life course. Her current work has a major focus on women’s health including developing and evaluating complex interventions before, during and after pregnancy. ORCID ID:

Prof. Nicola Heslehurst

Prof. Nicola Heslehurst

Newcastle University

Professor Nicola Heslehurst is the current Chair of the Board of Trustees for the UK Association for the Study of Obesity. She holds a National Institute for Health and Care Research Advanced Fellowship exploring the role of adiposity in early pregnancy for risk prediction of obesity-related adverse pregnancy outcomes. Her wider research programme explores inequalities in maternal and child obesity and nutrition, and how routine services can be adapted to improve life course health and well-being for women and their children. Ongoing research topics include the impact of food insecurity during pregnancy and early life on maternal and child weight, nutrition and health, weight stigma during pregnancy, and the reproductive support needs for women who have had bariatric surgery.

Prof. Sharleen O'Reilly

Prof. Sharleen O'Reilly

University College Dublin

Sharleen is a Registered Dietitian and Associate Professor at University College Dublin, Ireland. She currently holds a prestigious Danish Diabetes and Endocrinology Academy Visiting Professorship. 

Sharleen’s research centres on non-communicable disease prevention for better maternal and child health. She is an investigator on over €7M of active research funding, has 96 peer-reviewed publications and currently leads a €4.4M EU Horizon2020 implementation project in pregnancy and the first year after birth focused on obesity and diabetes prevention. 

Sharleen sits on the Executive Committee of the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics Committee on Impact of Pregnancy on Long-term Health.

Dr Rosie Dawson

Dr Rosie Dawson

South Tees NHS Trust

Rosie is a Consultant Midwife at James Cook Hospital in the northeast of England, with a special interest in Public Health and lifestyle and midwifery led care.  Rosie has over 20 years experience in midwifery and has worked in many clinical and academic settings including lead midwife for education and lead for maternity service user voice. Rosie has recently qualified with a doctorate in Public Health focusing on preconception lifestyle change in women with obesity and infertility. Working in partnership with NHS, community organisations and charities, Rosie has co designed and piloted the LIFT (Lifestyle, Intervention, Fertility, Togetherness) project to improve wellbeing in this population.

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