New study findings from researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have found that excess weight gain during pregnancy can have consequences that last well after the pregnancy is over.
While there's evidence to show that excess weight gain in pregnancy ups the risk of obesity after delivery, few studies have looked at the effects of weight gain on obesity risk over the long-term.
To investigate, researchers looked at the body mass index (BMI) of over 2,000 women who had delivered babies between 1981 and 1983. The researchers used 1990 Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations on pregnancy weight gain.
Researchers found that women who gained too much weight during their pregnancy, based on the IOM's guidelines, were twice as likely to be overweight later in life, and had a more than four-fold increased risk of being obese. The relationship didn't change even after the researchers accounted for factors such as whether a woman exercised during pregnancy or how long she breastfed her baby.
More specifically, the study found that women who had gained too much weight during their pregnancy had gained an average of 44 pounds twenty-one years later, while women who gained a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy put on 31 pounds, and women who gained too little during pregnancy put on about 20 pounds.
While further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms that contribute to weight gain after pregnancy, researchers note that it's possible women with metabolisms that predispose them to obesity may put on too much weight in pregnancy and continue to gain too much weight throughout their lives.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical.
For more information on healthy eating before, during and after pregnancy, read Leslie Beck's Nutrition Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
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