Dieting During Pregnancy? Good Morning America Reveals The Truth About “Eating For Two” By Exploring Kaiser Permanente Study “Healthy Moms”

Filed in Gather Moms News Essential by on May 10, 2010 0 Comments

The pregnancy test has only just read positive, and already you’re ordering that extra order of fries and indulging in a daily bowl of ice cream.  After all, in the past the common assumption has always been that you’re eating for two.  But just how true is this belief?

According to researchers behind a Kaiser Permanente study on a woman’s diet during pregnancy entitled Healthy Moms, not only is eating for two a misconception (a woman of average weight only needs an additional 300 calories per day to support a healthy singleton pregnancy), but it can be a downright dangerous practice for those mothers who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or above, the CDC’s standards for considering a person obese.  Mothers with a BMI of between 25-29.9 are considered overweight by the CDC as well, and should also strive for a lower weight gain, with a goal of between 11-20 pounds.  With more than half of women who become pregnant in the United States falling into one of these two categories, and with weight gain during pregnancy being associated with many undesirable pregnancy outcomes, including c-section, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes, Kaiser has funded a study regarding the effects of dieting during pregnancy on these two groups.

The study, conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and directed by OB/GYN Dr. Kim Vesco, is challenging national standards for weight gain during pregnancy, asking women who are obese to increase their pre-pregnancy weight by just 3% during their pregnancies.  For a 200 lb. woman, this would mean gaining a mere 6 lbs over the course of nine months. In order to do so, Healthy Moms asks mothers to eat around 2,000 calories per day, less than the recommended calories for a pregnant woman of normal weight, as well as attending nutrition counseling/support sessions and keeping a food diary.  Though the initial results data will take three years to gather, researchers are optimistic.

Participant Jamie Martin has been following the guidelines, and at nearly eight months pregnant, has gained just 6 pounds, as opposed to the 35 she had gained at this same point in her first pregnancy.

Some critics, however, including Dr. Naomi Stotland of The University of California at San Francisco, are concerned that the lower calorie intake may harm the fetuses.  With the mothers drawing on their own body fat reserves, their concern is that the process of burning this fat will cause ketones to be released in the body, posing a potential risk to the fetus in the form of neurological damage and/or lower IQ’s.

My personal opinion on this is that the benefits of decreased weight gain would be worth the slight potential risk, especially given the real, proven risks associated with premature births due to complications associated with excessive weight gain during pregnancy.  Not only that, but I feel that the food choices you would be making in order to meet the caloric requirements would mitigate the potential for harm, providing your baby with the best possible start and nutrients to grow.

What do you think of the study?  Would you be willing to participate if you were an overweight/obese expectant mother?  Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?

Original article here




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I'm a 26-year-old new mother of a precious three-month-old baby girl. I am green. I am an activist. I am an advocate. I am a bit of a foodie. I love to create - everything from writing to photography to painting to cooking.

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