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Excessive gestational weight gain linked to higher weight at seven years postpartum

Posted:  Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Another caution sign for weight watchers! Researchers have for the first time examined the association between gestational weight gain and long-term weight retention and body fat among a multi-ethnic urban population. They have learnt that women who gained excessive weight during pregnancy had greater body fat and weight 7 years after childbirth if they were normal weight or slightly overweight before pregnancy.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study evaluated the data of 302 African–American or Dominican mothers who were part of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns Study from 1998 to 2013.

A total of 5% women were underweight prior to pregnancy, 53% normal weight, 20% overweight, and 22% obese. The gestational weight gained by 64% of the women was above that recommended by the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines.

Nearly 38% of the subjects were obese 7 years after childbirth. Surprisingly, nonobese women were more physiologically sensitive to the effects of high gestational weight gain than obese women as they were found to have an almost 400% increased risk of obesity 7 years postpartum.

Summing up the study findings, Andrew Rundle, DrPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, said, "During the course of this study, there was an overall increase in obesity nationwide, likely driven by changes in food policies and the retail food environment, and increases in portion sizes, coupled with physical activity patterns that did not balance out increases in energy intake. These trends likely affected all of our study participants, but our research shows that in addition, women who experienced excessive gestational weight gain also experienced sustained increases in fat mass and weight."

The IOM’s revised guidelines recommend a gestational weight gain of 25–35 lbs during pregnancy or approximately 1 lb/week during the 2nd and 3rd trimester for women in the normal weight range, 28–40 lbs for underweight women, 15–25 lbs for overweight women, and 11–20 lbs for obese women.

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