Intervention Curbs Weight Gain in Obese Pregnant Women

September 12, 2014

A weight management program (diet and exercise advice, weekly group meetings) helped obese pregnant women limit weight gain and have healthier babies.

Weekly group meetings along with other weight management practices aimed at helping obese pregnant women limit their weight gain show promise, according to a recently published study.

A weight management program that included diet and exercise advice along with weekly group meetings helped obese women limit their weight gain during pregnancy, researchers of the Healthy Moms study revealed in the latest issue of Obesity. In addition, women who participated in the intervention were less likely to give birth to babies who were large for gestational age, compared with those without access to the program.

Pertinent Points

- A weight management program that included weekly group meetings aimed at helping obese pregnant women curb their weight gain proved successful.

- Not only was weight gain effectively limited, the women in the program also gave birth to fewer large-for-gestational-age babies and had lost more weight at two weeks postpartum than women who did not participate in the program.

"Most interventions to limit weight gain among obese women during pregnancy have failed, but our study shows that with regular contact and support, these women can limit the amount of weight they gain, which will also reduce the risk of complications during and after pregnancy," said study author Kim Vesco, MD, MPH, a practicing Ob/Gyn and clinical investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon.

For the study, 56 women were enrolled in the weight management program between seven and 21 weeks’ gestation, while 58 women were randomized to the control group. Those in the control group received one-time dietary advice.

The researchers looked at maternal weight gain, newborn weight, and the weight of the women at two weeks postpartum. In all three areas, the results revealed benefits to those who participated in the weight management program.

Specifically, by 34 weeks' gestation, women in the weight management group had gained an average of 11 pounds, while the average weight gain in the control group was 18 pounds. Also, only 9% of the women who received weight management help, versus 26% of those getting one-time dietary advice, gave birth to babies considered large for gestational age.

Finally, at two weeks postpartum, women who participated in the program not only weighed less than their control counterparts but also weighed less than they did when they were first enrolled in the study. Participants in the intervention dropped an average of six pounds from their weight upon entering the study, compared with an average weight gain of 3 pounds for women who were not enrolled in the weight management program.