Pregnancy, Obesity and Nutrition Initiative (PONI)

The FIGO Pregnancy, Obesity and Nutrition Initiative (PONI) aims to seize the golden opportunity which healthy pregnancy offers to give women and their children a life free from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

FIGO has pioneered the concept that, despite being termed 'non‐communicable,' NCDs are communicable across generations. The risk of intergenerational NCD transmission is exacerbated by the increasing incidence of pregnancy conditions such as obesity, gestational diabetes, hypertension, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Pregnancy therefore provides a unique opportunity for prevention and management of the NCD epidemic, which accounts for over 70 percent of deaths around the world every year. 

Click here to read the Statement from FIGO's Committee on Pregnancy and Non-communicable Diseases

About PONI

FIGO's expert Pregnancy and NCDs Committee (Chair Prof Moshe Hod and Co-chairs Prof Mark Hanson and Dr Hema Divakar) has initiated PONI as part of ongoing work to ensure NCDs are addressed simultaneously alongside maternal health, for the immediate and long-term benefit of mothers, children and future generations. 

Three articles published in the November issue of the International Journal Gynecology and Obstetrics (IJGO) introduce the initiative and upcoming activities:


PONI will be presented at a series of meetings by Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe and Prof Mark Hanson, starting with:
Event: AICC-RCOG meeting
Date: Saturday 16 November, 2019
Location: Bangalore, India
Speaker: Prof Mark Hanson, a co-chair of FIGO's Pregnancy and NCDs Committee

Said Dr Divakar, who is also the past president of FOGSI, a FIGO National Member Society:

“It is time to find innovative solutions to tackle the paradoxical issues across India, which swing from malnutrition to obesity. We must break the silos and collaborate with all stakeholders focused on bringing about lifestyle change, including the Government of India, with the FIT INDIA movement recently launched by our Prime Minister.

We as OBGYNs have a great opportunity with the FIGO PONI initiative to do our best around pregnancy, to ensure that the next generation survives and thrives.”

Malnutrition and obesity are health risks in women and their children globally, passing across generations. To address this challenge it will be essential for health care professionals, especially Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to focus on the local issues which may assist or hamper preventive interventions.

The Challenge

NCDs, including cardiovascular and lung disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer have widespread financial and social consequences:

  • The World Health Organization reports that one in three people around the world suffers the effects of some form of malnutrition.
  • NCDs are transferable – across generations. This has not been sufficiently recognised
  • The NCD Risk Factor Collaboration predicts that by 2025 more than 21 percent of women in the world will be obese.
  • Healthy body weight and nutrition before, during and after pregnancy can prevent NCDs in both women and their children.

The Solution

FIGO, as a global federation bringing together OBGYNs from 132 countries, is gathering resources to make a major contribution to the prevention of non‐communicable diseases (NCDs) globally.

PONI was formed to reduce all types of malnutrition at three critical periods: before, during, and after pregnancy. Its mission is to ensure that OBYGNs think nutrition first at every contact and act to reduce maternal obesity. 

Over the next two years, the PONI team will undertake a range of activities aimed at:

  • Providing key messages and a strong narrative relating to the importance of tackling malnutrition and obesity before, during, and after pregnancy to improve the long‐term health of mothers and their children and future generations
  • Sharing and disseminating FIGO's evidence‐based guidelines, checklists, and tools to improve frontline services to 'think nutrition first' at every contact
  • Ensuring a large range of stakeholders—i.e. member societies, frontline health professionals, partner non‐government organizations—understand the PONI's messages, guidelines, available tools, and the way in which they can make a difference
  • Providing publicity opportunities to increase uptake and implementation of the PONI as a basis for further outreach and resource mobilization for the PNCDC

The gift of a life free from NCDs

​Parents universally want to give their children the gift of the best start to life, and OBGYNs are uniquely positioned to improve the health of women and future generations. 

Maternal nutrition is simple to assess and is a modifiable risk factor for health. Nutritional interventions before, during, and after pregnancy have the potential to have widespread impact on the global burden of obesity and NCDs. FIGO believes that we should consider it our responsibility to identify and address nutritional issues in women under our care. 

This major initiative aims to secure a global declaration on PONI by the time of the XXIII FIGO World Congress in Sydney, Australia, in 2021.