According to the Institute of Medicine guidelines published in 2009, obese women those women with a BMI of 30 or greater should gain no more than five to nine kilograms (about 10-20 lbs) when pregnant. A new study, published in the journal Obesity, found that obese women who were part of a weight management program throughout their pregnancy gained less weight and were less likely to deliver babies who were large-for-gestational age (LGA), compared to women who received one-time dietary advice (LGA babies have an increased risk of certain metabolic abnormalities later on).
Dr. Kimberly K. Vesco, a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist and clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, and colleagues randomized 114 obese pregnant women into one of two groups: The control group received one session of dietary advice about the importance of a healthy diet in addition to their routine care. The intervention group was advised to adopt a diet in accordance with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan (DASH diet) which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish and poultry and limits sodium, sweets and red meat. They were also advised to exercise for 30 minutes daily absent other medical conditions. The women in the intervention group gained less weight during pregnancy compared to women in the control group (an average of 5 kg as compared to 8.4 kg) after 34 weeks gestation. Furthermore, only 9 percent of the babies born to the women in the intervention group were LGA babies compared to 26 percent of those babies in the control group.
According to the authors, [O]ur comprehensive lifestyle modification intervention produced lower [gestational weight gain] and reduced the likelihood of LGA infants among obese women. Whether this or similar interventions can improve long-term maternal and child health is yet to be determined.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, The truth of the matter is that being obese at the outset of pregnancy comes with a whole host of complications for both the mother and the child such, including an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and delivering an LGA baby, just to name a few. Obese women should therefore be counseled to lose weight before becoming pregnant. However, it is also important to pay close attention to weight gain while pregnant, especially in obese women, and it is encouraging to see that this lifestyle intervention prevented excessive weight gain.