Background: Two-thirds of Australian adults are overweight or obese with reproductive aged women leading this trend, gaining more weight yearly than older women and progressing more rapidly to obesity than men. Over half of Australian women enter pregnancy overweight or obese.The 2019 National Obesity Summit highlighted “The importance of the first 2000 days” for healthy lifestyle and obesity prevention across preconception, pregnancy and postpartum. The summit emphasised the imperative for action and highlighted the irrefutable rationale to focus on these life stages, given the enormity and health impact of unhealthy lifestyle and obesity on the health of women and the next generation. The Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (HiPP) program of research, spanning over 15 years, aims to refine and implement health promotion, lifestyle improvement, and obesity prevention strategically targeting women preconception and during pregnancy, to improve the health of women and the next generation. Workplaces have been identified by the World Obesity Federation/Policy and Prevention and WHO as priority health promotion settings. One aim of our HiPP research is to co-design a workplace health promotion program, implement this in workplaces and evaluate the efficacy to improve lifestyle knowledge, behaviours, and habits of reproductive-aged women.
Methods: We have adapted and administered a Workplace Health Promotion survey, to over 300 women, to understand reproductive-aged women’s wants, needs, motivations, barriers, enablers and readiness to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours. We have adopted qualitative methods to further understand the needs of women in the workplace around preconception.
Findings: Women want to know that their employer and workplace prioritises their health and wellbeing and is supportive of fostering preconception health. An online format is preferred in the form of a “one stop shop”, web-based portal that provides lifestyle advice and education to promote physical and emotional health, as well as information about having a healthy pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work rights and policies. We are co-designing this portal with key stakeholders and pilot testing it for efficacy and acceptability.
Discussion: By targeting women where they work we are assisting them be the healthiest weight they can be, to improve maternal and child health outcomes.