For the study, University of Adelaide researchers wanted to understand the links between body image and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. They discovered that more than 70 percent of pregnant women who are overweight or obese underestimate their weight.
Those who underestimate their weight are more likely to experience a higher rate of weight gain during pregnancy.
The results are published in the journal Women and Birth.
“There is very little research around the world that describes women’s perception of body size and shape in early pregnancy,” said researcher Deborah Turnbull, Ph.D.
“Because obesity and excessive weight gain pose a range of health risks for mother and child during pregnancy, and are linked to health problems in later life, it’s important for us to better understand this issue.”
Just 26 percent of women surveyed correctly identified their body mass index (BMI,) with 70 percent underestimating and 4 percent overestimating 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,” Turnbull said.
Co-author Jodie Dodd, M.D., said: “The findings of our 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 behaviors.
“Previous research has shown that women make healthy changes if they believe their health is at risk and if they have awareness of potential negative outcomes.
“We suggest that health care providers promoting healthy weight gain during pregnancy should integrate strategies to increase the awareness of potential risks in overweight and obese women.”
Source: University of Adelaide