A new study has found that traditional weight loss techniques including food and exercise journals, weekly support meetings and nutrition and diet counselling are effective weight loss tools for pregnant women dealing with obesity.
The study, called the Healthy Moms study, also found that obese women who are able to hold down their weight gain during pregnancy are less likely to have large for gestational age babies, which can make a delivery more complicated and increase the risk of a child becoming obese later on.
Mothers are also at risk from excessive weight during pregnancy, which has been linked to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and a higher likelihood of having a C section.
The study was published in the journal Obesity and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The study included 114 obese women with a body mass index of 30 and above. Half the participants took part in weight loss programming that included weekly group meetings, regular weigh-ins, personalized calorie intake goals and food and exercise diaries. The other half of the participants had just one meeting with a dietitian about diet and exercise for a healthy pregnancy.
At 34 weeks of pregnancy, women who participated in the weekly group meetings had gained an average of 11 pounds, compared to 18 pounds for the control group. At two weeks after delivery, participants in the weekly meeting group weighed on average about 6 pounds less than they did when they started the study, while the women in the second group weighed on average 3 pounds more.
And while women in both groups had similar rates of birthing and delivery complications, only 9 percent of women in the weekly meeting group had large-for-gestational age babies, compared to 26 percent of women in the control group. The researchers, who advised the weekly meeting group to maintain their weight rather than lose weight, say a larger study is needed learn about they more about the impact of limited weight gain or weight loss on pregnancy outcomes
“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,” said Kim Vesco, M.D., M.PH, a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, and the study’s lead author.