How body image impacts weight gain during pregnancy

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2013, 15:42 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed that pregnant women who under-estimate their weight are more likely to experience a higher rate of weight gain during the gestation period.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide, who aimed at finding how women perceive their bodies during pregnancy and how that impacts on their weight gain, found that more than 70percent of pregnant women who are overweight or obese under-estimate their weight.

They studied more than 400 South Australian women to better understand the links between body image and excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

The research was conducted by PhD student Zhixian Sui in the University's Robinson Institute, under the supervision of Professor Deborah Turnbull (School of Psychology) and Professor Jodie Dodd (Robinson Institute and Women's and Children's Hospital).

It was found that just 26 percent of women surveyed correctly identified their body mass index (BMI,) with 70 percent under-estimating and 4 percent over-estimating their BMI.

"Women who incorrectly identified their BMI were significantly more likely to have higher gestational weight gain , which suggests a disconnect between their perceptions and the realities of their weight," Professor Turnbull said.

Professor Dodd said the findings of their study have significant implications for clinicians delivering weight-related messages to women during pregnancy, and highlight the very complex influence of maternal perceptions and diet-related behaviours.

The study is published in the journal Women and Birth.