UCL Public Policy


Diet and nutrition of both parents plays a key role in health of offspring before conception

UCL and the University of Southampton have launched a new Lancet series on preconception health, with an associated policy briefing

Preconception Health

17 April 2018

Project information

Partners: The Lancet, University of Southampton

A new series of papers in The Lancet published by a research team from UCL and the University of Southampton makes the case for both men and women to improve their diet and health before trying for a baby.

Preconception Health is a series of three papers examining the effects of smoking, high alcohol & caffeine intake, diet, obesity & malnutrition on conception and the future health of a baby. The series highlights the importance and summarises the evidence of preconception health for future health and suggests context-specific interventions. It also calls for a social movement to achieve political engagement for health in this particular phase in life.

The social and political side of this work is summarised in a new policy briefing Preconception Health: Challenges and Opportunities 

The briefing contains four key recommendations:

  1. People contemplating pregnancy should have an opportunity to improve their health before conception.
  2. Motivations to engage with pre-conception health differ according to age and phase of life; understanding and harnessing these motivations is key to successful intervention.
  3. Interventions need to be context specific and to make best use of existing platforms for delivery.
  4. Big food and big food retailers should be mobilised as part of the solution and in support of a social movement for better pre-conception health and nutrition.