Feasibility of a brief, intensive weight loss intervention to improve reproductive outcomes in obese, subfertile women: a pilot study

We discuss how intensive weight loss intervention was associated with a greater percentage weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity in obese, subfertile women.

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Volume 106, Issue 5, Pages 1212-1220


Amy Rothberg, M.D., Ph.D., Michael Lanham, M.D., John Randolph, M.D., Christine Fowler, M.S., R.D., Nicole Miller, M.P.H., R.D., Yolanda Smith, M.D., M.S.



To evaluate the feasibility of a brief, intensive weight loss intervention (IWL) to improve reproductive outcomes in obese subfertile women.


Pilot study of IWL versus standard-of-care nutrition counseling (SCN).


Single-site, academic institution.


Obese women (body mass index, 35–45 kg/m2) with anovulatory subfertility.


Women were rigorously prescreened to rule out secondary causes of subfertility. Eligible women were randomized to IWL or SCN. IWL consisted of 12 weeks of very-low-energy diet (800 kcal/day) + 4 weeks of a low-calorie conventional food-based diet (CFD) to promote 15% weight loss. SCN consisted of 16 weeks of CFD to promote ≥5% weight loss. Women were transitioned to weight maintenance diets and referred back to reproductive endocrinology for ovulation induction.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Feasibility of recruitment, randomization, intervention implementation, and retention.


Thirty-nine women were screened; 25 (64%) were eligible to participate, and 14 of those eligible (56%) agreed to be randomized, seven in each group. One withdrew from the IWL group and two from the SCN group. Percent weight loss was greater in the IWL group than in the SCN group (13% ± 5% vs. 4% ± 4%). Three of six women in the IWL group conceived and delivered term pregnancies. No pregnancies occurred in the SCN group.


After rigorous screening, 44% of eligible women completed the study. IWL was associated with greater percentage weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity.

Clinical Trial Registration


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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.