Overweight Pregnant Women Not Getting Good Advice

pregnancy_weightgainWith so many people struggling with their weight, the issue gets even more challenging when those people do not receive the appropriate guidance from their health care provider. This may be happening at a time when women are particularly vulnerable to gaining too much weight. A recent study has shown that overweight pregnant women may not be receiving accurate advice on healthy weight gain throughout their pregnancy. The accepted guidelines for weight gain are based on the weight of the woman at the start of pregnancy. Women of a normal weight are advised to gain 25 to 35 pounds, overweight women are advised to gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women are advised to gain less than 20 pounds.  A recent large study even showed that some obese women may be able to safely lose some weight during pregnancy. The new study found that many overweight and obese women are not advised to gain weight by their healthcare providers according to their starting weight, but rather many are recommended to gain the ‘standard’ 25 to 35 pounds for women of normal weight.

The researchers from Penn State School of Medicine interviewed 24 women who had recently given birth to their first child. Half of the women were overweight and the other half were obese. They found that all of the overweight women exceeded the recommended pregnancy weight gain, as did 75% of the obese women.  Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is associated with weight retention after delivery and is a predictor of obesity after pregnancy.  Despite the importance of healthy weight, only 2 of the women were given accurate weight gain instructions based on their starting weight. 9 of the women did not receive instructions on healthy weight gain from their providers at all. And in half of the cases, health care providers had advised the women to gain too much weight, using the guidelines for normal weight women instead of the appropriate weight guideline.

The concern is that “women may believe that their health care provider is not concerned with excessive weight since they are not being counseled. And some may believe that their provider will alert them if they are gaining too much weight,” said lead study author Dr. Cynthia Chuang. The study also found that overall the women were not given proper exercise advice, which meant that they were not following the federal guideline of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise in healthy pregnant women, even in previously inactive women.

Another recent study highlights the importance of pregnant women eating a healthy diet.  Researchers found that an inadequate diet during pregnancy predispositions the baby to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The study found that more than half of the women in the study had low quality diets that included a high amount of animal products rich in saturated fats yet a low amount of carbohydrates from vegetables and legumes.

Related Reading: Obesity & Pregnancy

Comments are closed.