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Bevan Exemplar Cohort 5 Projects

Foodwise in Pregnancy: Supporting healthy weight gain

Lisa Williams

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board with industry partner, Celf Creative Ltd


Being above a healthy weight and gaining more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems and birth complications for both mother and baby and increase associated health care costs.

Lifestyle interventions in pregnancy focusing on improving dietary intake and physical activity have been shown to prevent excess pregnancy weight gain. In many areas of Wales there are currently no community groups or interventions to signpost women to should they require this support. Foodwise in Pregnancy aims to fill this gap.

Project Aims:

  • Improve access to healthy lifestyle information and practical support for all women during pregnancy focussing on healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Enable women to make healthy lifestyle choices so that they have the best possible chance of a healthy pregnancy, baby and start to their baby’s life.
  • Enable women, during pregnancy and beyond, to adopt healthy behaviours for themselves and their baby that minimise the risk of developing long term conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
  • Provide accredited nutrition skills training and professional advice and support for people who wish to provide Foodwise in Pregnancy programmes in their communities
  • Test, learn and improve the model and make the case for Wales-wide rollout.


  • For pregnant women, the coronavirus pandemic brought significant concern and anxiety about their health and the health of their baby and loneliness and isolation due to ‘the new normal’. The pandemic exposed issues of food insecurity for vulnerable groups and the need to make sure everyone could access nourishing food.
  • All face-to-face community group delivery, including Foodwise in Pregnancy, stopped in March 2020 due to safe social distancing measures.
  • In an effort to continue to support the existing group a series of short videos were filmed and uploaded to the Cardiff and Vale UHB YouTube site.

Video: Foodwise in Pregnancy Online Session 1


  • A survey to explore alternative ways pregnant women (n=107) preferred to access healthy lifestyle information revealed 98% would use an App and 32% would consider attending virtual Foodwise in Pregnancy sessions.

Further comments from survey participants about what they would find useful:

“A core list of safe and unsafe common UK foods would be super useful.”
“Sample meal plans with recipes and shopping lists.”
“Meal plans with neutral easy to eat foods for nausea.”
“Exercises for a bad back and aching legs etc. would be a good idea.”
“I have enjoyed watching the videos you’ve produced giving dietetic advice during pregnancy.”
“Please can you launch the app asap.”

Key Outcomes:

  • Feedback from participants before the pandemic identified barriers to attendance and suggested improvements to enhance engagement
  • Produced short videos for participants who were unable to complete the programme when halted late March
  • Captured women’s views on alternatives to groups – i.e. App and/or virtual Foodwise in Pregnancy sessions
  • Secured Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales funding from all seven health boards towards the development of a Foodwise in Pregnancy App
  • Completed tender exercise and awarded contract to industry partner on 21st Jan 2021 to develop the App by 31st March 2021.

Next Steps:

  • Launch Foodwise in Pregnancy App April 2021
  • Launch virtual Foodwise in Pregnancy training resource for trained facilitators to use providing a standardised ‘once for Wales’ approach.
  • Evaluation undertaken with App users by Cedar April- May 2021 to include in App monitoring and semi structures interviews//focus groups to inform impact and improvements needed
  • Content and quality assurance group of dietetics, psychology, Cedar evaluation centre, physiotherapy and midwifery to oversee roll out and evaluation

Our Exemplar Experience:

The support from the Bevan Commission, Agor IP and Cardiff and Vale UHB finance team and innovations lead have been immensely helpful.



Lisa Williams:, @LisaWilliamsRD