Weight gain in pregnancy might increase obesity risk

June 3, 2004 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Weight gain in pregnancy might increase obesity risk

Women who gain more than 35 pounds during pregnancy have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, Swedish scientists said last week. Expectant mothers put on an average of about 26 pounds and most of it disappears in the first year after birth.

Researchers at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm said that 26-30 pounds is fine but gaining more can cause problems. They said that at over 16 kilos (35 pounds) gained, women are at risk of retaining the weight and starting a trend toward obesity. They stressed that women should not diet during pregnancy or restrict their food intake but should eat sensibly.

The research team monitored the weight gain of 2,342 pregnant women in Stockholm and followed up their progress at one year and 15 years later.

Women who had gained less than 35 pounds were about three pounds heavier a year after the birth but those who put on more weight had retained 12 pounds at one year and weighed 37 pounds more 15 years later.

The researchers said that some women put on too much weight and think it will easily disappear during breastfeeding, but this usually doesn't happen. The study showed there is no effect of breastfeeding on weight.

Research has also shown that weight gain is cumulative with each pregnancy and is highest between the fifth and sixth pregnancy, although most modern families are not that large.

About 7 percent of the women at the start of the study were overweight. The number increased to 12 percent a year after the birth and rose to 31 percent by 15 years. Women who were overweight or obese before pregnancy maintained their increased weight after the birth.

The researchers are now studying the children of the women who took part in the study to determine whether weight gain during pregnancy has an impact on them.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.