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Weight management 'benefits' for mother and baby

Posted: May 18, 2012 |   Comments

Dieting in pregnancy is safe for women and does not carry risks for the baby, a review of research has suggested. The British Medical Journal analysis looked at the findings from 44 previous studies involving more than 7,000 women.

The London-based team said following a healthy diet - and not eating for two - prevents excess weight gain and cuts the risk of complications. But current guidelines do not advocate dieting or weight monitoring.

Half the UK population are either overweight or obese and the rates are rising. And in Europe and the US, between 20% and 40% of women gain more than the recommended weight during pregnancy. High weights are linked to complications such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes and high blood pressure as well as early delivery.

This review, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), compared diet, exercise or a combination of the two.

Dietary advice was based on limiting calorie intake, having a balanced diet and eating foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and pulses. The researchers then examined how much weight women gained during their pregnancies and if there were complications.

While each approach reduced a woman's weight gain, diet had the greatest effect with an average reduction of nearly 4kg (8.8lbs).

Dr Janine Stockdale, research fellow at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We should be careful to note that the researchers are not advising women to lose weight during pregnancy; this is about managing excessive weight or weight gain."

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