‘Eating for two’ in pregnancy linked to risk of obesity later in life

Updated: May 18, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

London: A new study has warned that ‘eating for two’ during pregnancy could leave women saddled with the extra pounds for life, putting them at higher risk of obesity and health problems such as high blood pressure.

Although weight gain during pregnancy is natural as the baby develops, researchers from the Bristol University suggested that being fat puts baby and mother at risk, reports the Daily Mail.

The findings add to mounting evidence about the harmful effects of being overweight during pregnancy.

The long-term Bristol study found that those who gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were three times as likely to be overweight, obese or become ‘apple-shaped’ 16 years later.

But women who began pregnancy at a healthy weight and who gained only a little weight were much less likely to go on to become fat and develop related health problems.

Complications suffered by obese women in pregnancy range from diabetes to life-threatening pre-eclampsia, while babies born to fat women are at greater risk of diabetes and obesity.

Study leader Dr Abigail Fraser said women should avoid over-eating, particularly in the first six months when extra weight was laid down as fat before the baby really needed it for growth.

The most important take-home message for women is to attain a healthy weight before conceiving, she added.

‘You don’t need to eat for two in pregnancy because this will cause you problems in later life, and is also linked to a higher risk of your baby becoming obese in childhood,’ said Fraser.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.