August 28, 2014
It sounds counterintuitive to ask women to gain no weight while they are pregnant, but that’s just what a novel study conducted by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research did to try and help women who are already obese reduce their risk of complications during pregnancy. More than half of women in the US are either overweight or obese when they become pregnant and many of them gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain can lead to complications for mom and baby, and puts the child at higher risk of being obese later in life. The Healthy Moms study found that by attending weekly group sessions, keeping food diaries, and setting specific calorie goals women who are already obese can limit their weight gain, and retain less weight after the baby is born. Women who participated in the program were also less likely to have large babies, which can make delivery more difficult and lead to problems for mom and baby. This is a landmark study because most interventions that have asked women to limit weight gain during pregnancy have failed, and because current guidelines from the Institute of Medicine suggest that women who are obese gain between 11-20 pounds during pregnancy; the goal of this study was for the women to maintain their weight throughout pregnancy.