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Saturday, 30 August 2014 09:40

Study: Obese Women Can Limit Weight Gain During Pregnancy

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A new study from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland found, "an effective way to help women who are obese limit their pregnancy weight gain."

The "Healthy Moms" study, published in Obesity, found that obese women can limit their weight gain during pregnancy using conventional weight loss techniques. Results of the the study also showed that obese women who limit their weight gain during pregnancy are less likely to have large-for-gestational age babies which can complicate delivery and increase the baby's risk of becoming obese later in life.

According to a Healthy Moms press release, "Excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been linked to complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, an increased rate of C-sections, birthing injuries and weight retention after pregnancy." The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM), a government advisory body, has issued guidelines for healthy amounts of weight gain during pregnancy. The guidelines suggest that normal-weight women gain around 25 pounds during pregnancy, but that obese women limit their weight gain to between 11 and 20 pounds.

In the Kaiser Healthy Moms study, 114 obese pregnant women (BMI of 30 or higher) were placed into two groups. The control group received one counseling session with a registered dietician to discuss healthy eating and exercise. The "intervention" group attended a weekly support group, had weekly weigh-ins and maintained a food and exercise diary. After 34 weeks of pregnancy, the women in the intervention program gained an average of 11 lbs compated to 18 lbs in the control group. Post-pregnancy, the intervention group lost six lbs versus a three pound gain in the control group. Women in the intervention group were 9% likely to have a baby large for gestational age vs. 26% in the control group.

"The thing that really helped these women was accountability. They came to meetings every week and interacted with other women." (Dr. Kim Vesco)

According to Healthy Moms lead author Dr. Kimberly K. Vesco, "More than half of women in the U.S. start out their pregnancies overweight or obese, and approximately half of all pregnant women gain too much weight during pregnancy, which can lead to increasing overweight and obesity. Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy may retain some of that extra weight and enter their next pregnancy at a higher weight than their prior pregnancy, which can increase their risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, babies that are too big and cesarean section."

"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. The thing that really helped these women was accountability. They came to meetings every week and interacted with other women."

To learn more about medical weight management, visit California Medical Weight Management on the Web at

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