Proper Diet and Exercise for Obese Pregnant Women
Researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy report that regular physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle that begins during the first trimester can prevent excessive weight gain in obese pregnant women, which can help avoid complications like hypertension, preterm delivery, and gestational diabetes.
Dr. Fabio Facchinetti, author of the study, states that according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the United States, women of normal body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) could gain 11-16 kilograms during pregnancy. However, obese women (with BMI > 25) should not gain more than 5-9 kg during pregnancy. This is because excess weight gain during pregnancy is linked to possible complications during pregnancy and delivery of the baby.
For the study, the researchers collaborated with colleagues in the clinical diagnostic medicine and public health department to set up a Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Program, which involved 33 women who were asked to follow a 1500 kcal/day daily diet with mild physical activity (30 minutes a day, 3 times a week). A control group composed of 28 participants received general advice from their physicians. The study, which began at 12 weeks of gestation, included obese women with single pregnancies.
Their findings showed that almost 80% of women who followed a lifestyle with proper diet and exercise were able to restrict their weight gain within allowable limits, compared to only 30% of those in the control group. Furthermore, the rates of high blood pressure, preterm delivery and gestational diabetes were significantly lower in the TLC group. They also found that the blood sugar levels of women in the treatment group were much lower than those of the control group, indicating improvement after just a short treatment period.
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Caloric restriction, exercise help prevent weight gain, other complications in obese women. ScienceDaily.