Introduction Obesity is rapidly becoming prevalent amongst the obstetric population and has been linked to many complications such as gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia and thromboembolism(1). There is a paucity of literature examining the lifestyle habits of obese pregnant women, which may be contributing to such complications.
Methods Sixty-two obese pregnant women (body mass index (BMI) 30.0–39.9 kg/m2; mean = 34 kg/m2) were matched by age and ethnicity to 124 non-obese pregnant women (BMI 20.0–29.9 kg/m2; mean = 25 kg/m2). A structured questionnaire was used to assess self-reported lifestyle habits.
Results Based on self-reported walking and other activities, 39% of the obese group and 35% of the control group met current guidelines for exercise in pregnancy(2) (P = 0.589). The obese group were more aware of calories on food labels (63% vs 38%; P = 0.003) and were more likely to drink low fat milk (53% vs 28%; P = 0.005). Prior to pregnancy, the recommended upper limit for alcohol intake of 11 units or more per week was exceeded by a greater percentage of obese women (18% vs 4%; P = 0.004). Smoking during pregnancy was also more prevalent in the obese group (10% vs 1%; P = 0.003).
Conclusion While obese women appeared to be more aware of certain healthier lifestyle choices, their alcohol intake exceeded that of the control group prior to pregnancy, which may have contributed to a greater calorie intake. Further research is needed into possible causes of maternal obesity, such as actual dietary intakes and food portion sizes. This could aid the development of more effective lifestyle interventions for pregnancy.
Dennedy, M.C & Dunne, F. (2010) The maternal and fetal impacts of obesity and gestational diabetes on pregnancy outcomes. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 24:573–589.
ACOG Commitee on Obstetric Practice (2002) Exercise during pregnancy and the post partum period. ACOG Committee Opinion no.267. Obstet Gynecol 99:171–173 (reaffirmed in 2009).
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