Restrained Eaters May ‘Let Go’ During Pregnancy
Women who usually are restrained eaters tend to gain more weight than other women when they’re pregnant, say researchers. Excess weight gain may be linked to child obesity, so a team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill investigated weight gain among women taking part in the university’s ongoing Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study.
They gave questionnaires to 1,223 participants to determine their eating habits. Based on the questionnaire results, the women were classified on the Revised Restraint Scale. Their weight was monitored during the course of their pregnancy.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests women should gain 28 to 40 pounds, 25 to 35 pounds, 15 to 25 pounds and at least 15 pounds for underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese women, respectively.
Study results showed that women who were restrained eaters prior to pregnancy tended to gain weight above the Institute of Medicine recommendations. But this only applied to restrained eaters who were normal, overweight or obese before getting pregnant. Restrained eaters who were underweight at conception tended to gain weight below the recommendations during their pregnancy. They also gained less weight during pregnancy than unrestrained underweight women.
Results are published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz believes that the Revised Restraint Scale tool is useful for identifying women who would benefit from nutritional counseling prior to or during pregnancy in order to achieve targeted weight-gain goals. The study findings “could potentially be used by dietitians and health care providers at a preconception care visit or during family planning to identify women at risk for unhealthy eating behaviors,” she said.
She added that the women in the study, particularly those who are underweight, should be followed up for potential eating disorders. Women who are not underweight should receive counseling and extra support to encourage healthy eating behaviors, increased physical activity levels, and “ways to eliminate stress which may increase the consumption of foods in certain social settings or in reaction to life events.”
Excessive weight gain during pregnancy may lead to the need for a Caesarean section. It may also cause large-for-gestational age (LGA) babies, and is linked to a shorter duration of breastfeeding and higher postpartum weight retention. Earlier research also indicated that a higher body mass index among mothers puts infants at a greater risk for birth defects of the kidney.