Women who gain too much or too little weight during pregnancy at risk for having an overweight child

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Childhood obesity is a major concern all across the world. Obesity, specifically childhood obesity is a major risk factor that predisposes the person to various chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol levels etc. Over the last few years, childhood obesity has greatly increased and today, 1 out of every 5 American children is classified as obese. There is no doubt that chips and burger, lack of physical activity, video games are the major culprit leading to childhood obesity.

Recent studies have found that women who gain too much weight while pregnant are much more likely to have obese children. According to these new studies, the risk of childhood obesity may begin in the womb.

According to a study done by the researchers in Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, it was found that out of 4,145 pregnant females, 20.4 percent of women who gained more than the recommended weight during pregnancy had overweight or obese children, as compared with 14.5 percent in women who gained weight as per the recommended guidelines.

The studies concluded that the risk of obesity in children increases if the mother gains weight more than the recommended guidelines. Excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy affects the normal mechanisms of metabolism, including appetite control and energy usage. This may affect the growth and development of the child, resulting in severe complications.

According to the findings, for every kilogram a mother gains, the birth weight of the baby increases by 7.35 grams. To keep a check on healthy weight gain during pregnancy, the Institute of Medicine has outlined the following BMI guidelines- For obese women with BMI more than 30, the recommended weight gain should be around 11 to 20 pounds; whereas for women within the BMI range of 25 and 29, the recommended weight gain should be in between 15 to 25 pounds. For those who are underweight with a BMI less than 18.5, the weight gain should be in between 28 to 40 pounds.

Well, it is true that there are numerous factors that can influence the risk of childhood pregnancy, but according to the above mentioned study, weight gain during pregnancy is an important factor that cannot be ignored.

Pregnancy is a crucial phase in every woman’s life. Diet is an important factor that helps in development of healthy pregnancy. However, most women tend to overdo and start eating more than it is required. If you are pregnant, it does not mean that you have to ‘eat for two’. Diet for pregnancy should be balanced, healthy and at regular timely intervals. It is important to include a variety of healthy nutritious foods and reduce the intake of fast and processed foods.

Source: Science Codex

Gynecologist Dr. Jack Ayoub


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