Behind the headlines
In May 2012, newspapers picked up on a study into dieting during pregnancy. The Independent claimed “Dieting is good for you”, while the Daily Mail insisted “piling on the pounds during pregnancy” increases the risk of complications.
So what’s the real story?
Diabetes UK says
Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, have shown that dieting during pregnancy has no adverse effects on the birth weight of newborn babies and is the most effective way for obese or overweight women to reduce the weight gain that can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes.
‘Eating for two’ and piling on excess weight during pregnancy is discouraged by doctors, since it increases the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, many women worry that dieting could harm their unborn child, and doctors are often cautious about advising on ways to manage weight. The research studied the effect of diet, exercise, or a combination of the two, on the amount of weight that women gained during their pregnancies and whether the mother or child experienced complications.
All three methods reduced weight gain but dieting had the greatest impact. Dieting also seemed to reduce the risk of complications and did not affect birth weights.
Not all pregnant women need to follow calorie-controlled diets to manage their weight, but such diets could help some pregnant women who are obese or overweight.