Excessive weight gain during pregnancy has long-term consequences for a woman’s weight. According to a US study, even several years after giving birth, women still weigh more and also have higher body fat levels. The study was published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”.
Researchers at Columbia University in New York examined data from 302 African-American and Dominican women enrolled in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns Study from 1998 to 2013. Prior to pregnancy, five per cent were underweight, 53 per cent had normal weight, 20 per cent were overweight and 22 per cent were obese.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of the women gained more weight than recommended by official guidelines. Seven years after pregnancy, 38 per cent of the participants were obese. Among women who were not obese before pregnancy, those with excessive weight gain had a four times higher risk of being obese seven years after delivery.
The effect seems to be particularly pronounced in women with normal weight before giving birth. In these women, excessive pregnancy weight gain was associated with significantly greater body weight and higher body fat seven years after delivery. “The findings also suggest that normal and modestly overweight women may be more physiologically sensitive to effects of high gestational weight gain and, therefore need to be further supported to gain weight appropriately during pregnancy,” said study author Elisabeth Widen.