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Program can help Limit Weight Gain for Pregnant Obese Women

Update Date: Aug 28, 2014 12:13 PM EDT
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When women are pregnant, weight gain becomes inevitable. Even though women have to eat for two, too much weight gain can end up increasing their risk of pregnancy complications. In a new study, researchers found that obese women who get pregnant can limit their weight gain by using conventional weight-loss methods.

"Most interventions to limit weight gain among obese women during pregnancy have failed, but our study shows that with regular contact and support, these women can limit the amount of weight they gain, which will also reduce the risk of complications during and after pregnancy," said author Kim Vesco, MD, MPH, a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist and clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, reported in the press release.

In this study titled Healthy Moms, the researchers recruited 114 obese women who were members of Kaiser Permanente Northwest. Obesity was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The researchers placed half of the women into the intensive weight management program while the remaining half were put into the usual care group. The program involved weekly group meetings, personalized caloric goals and frequent weigh-ins. The participants also had to keep food and exercise diaries. In the other group, which acted as the control, the participants went to one meeting with a dietitian and received general data on how to be healthy during pregnancy through diet and exercise.

At week 34, the researchers found that women in the program gained an average of 11 pounds. Women in the usual care group gained significantly more weight with an average increase of 18 pounds. The researchers weighed the women two weeks post delivery and found that women in the intervention group weighed six pounds less than they did at the beginning of the study. Women in the other group, however, experienced an average weight gain of three pounds.

Overall, all of the women had the same amount of birthing and delivery problems, but women in the program had a lower rate of babies that were considered large for their gestational age. The rates for women in the program and in the usual care group were nine percent and 26 percent respectively.

The researchers reported that the intervention program did not negatively impact the pregnancy outcomes. However, they stated that more research, particularly larger studies, should be conducted. Too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to conditions such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes, a greater risk of C-sections, birthing injuries, and weight retention post delivery.

The study was published in the journal, Obesity.

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