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Too Much Pregnancy Weight Gain Linked To Future Health Risks

And here’s part two of our special feature on the fast paced, high pressure world of pregnancy weight gain and pregnancy weight loss:

Women who gain excessive weight in pregnancy are more than four times as likely to be obese in 20 years, says a new Australian study.  If the study is an indication of the larger population, this puts about a third of pregnant women at risk of future obesity and all the health problems it entails.

The research has doctors questioning whether the traditional notion that women should consume more calories during pregnancy is actually a good idea. Pregnant women used to be told they were “eating for two” and encouraged to chow down indiscriminately. That’s no longer recommended, but pregnant women are still told to to eat more calories than they might if they weren’t pregnant. Could this recommendation soon be a thing of the past, too?

Obesity is a huge health risk, and as rates climb, it’s important for doctors to  address this growing health crisis. But at the same time, I’m not sure pregnant women need more weight worries. If they’re not worried about losing weight to fit into an ideal, they’re worried about losing it to avoid health risks.

The problem with this as well as all weight-related recommendations is that it all comes down to the individual. Everyone’s body is different and will respond differently to pregnancy. And after the baby’s born, there are so many factors that determine how easy or hard it is to lose weight. There’s such a wide range…we’ve all heard of people who’ve gained loads and lost it right away, and people who stayed within range and kept it on forever.

It seems to me that for most people, moderation is the answer: moderated diet, moderate exercise.  But public health recommendations rarely seem to take a moderate path.  I know they’re trying to catch the people who are at biggest risk, the women who are already on the road to obesity when they become pregnant. But I worry about what’s happening to everyone else in the process.

photo: Meddygarnet/flickr

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