Weight management before and during pregnancy
The statistics are quite alarming - half of the UK population is now either overweight or obese. This has a huge impact on the health of the individuals involved, and on the NHS and UK economy. Women of childbearing age are very much at risk of the adverse effects of obesity. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with increased pregnancy complications (e.g. pre-eclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure) and adverse outcomes for both mothers and babies, and is a major risk factor for childhood obesity.
In May 2012 the British Medical Journal* published an article by a team of medical researchers which challenges the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines from 2010 which state that dieting during pregnancy is not recommended and may harm the unborn child. These researchers undertook a review of 44 previous studies involving more than 7000 obese or overweight pregnant women to establish the effects of dietary and lifestyle interventions on pregnancy outcomes. They concluded from these studies that following a healthy diet and limiting calorie intake during pregnancy to manage excessive weight and pregnancy weight gain can significantly reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby and did not affect babies’ birth weights.
If you are overweight or obese and you are thinking of having a baby, it makes sense to try to lose some weight before you conceive. If you are already pregnant then you shouldn’t be aiming to lose weight during your pregnancy, but you should manage any weight gain carefully and not gain more than has been recommended to you by your doctor or midwife. You should be eating sensibly – have a look at our advice on a balanced pregnancy diet.
If you'd like to share your experiences with us we'd love to hear how you've got on; were you able to lose weight before you conceived or how much weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
Bye for now.
How big a problem is being obese or overweight for children?
Not a week goes by without hearing something in the news about the rising problem of obesity in this country. It’s something we should all be concerned about, especially when you hear how many children are affected. Around one third of all children in the UK are currently above a healthy weight and this number is increasing year on year. It’s estimated that by 2050, two thirds of children will be obese or overweight.
There are of course some serious consequences of being obese, including an increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other health problems. Most parents are understandably keen to ensure that the eating patterns their children develop are healthy ones and I’m often asked by parents if the amounts of foods their babies are eating are normal or whether they are eating too much and at risk of becoming overweight. As I said in my last blog, making sure your baby is active is important too.
Starting weaning at the correct time and not too early (recommended weaning age is 6 months, although some babies may need weaning earlier, although not before 4 months) is key to reducing obesity risk. Once weaning has started, you should encourage your baby to eat a varied, balanced diet; unhealthy eating can ‘programme’ young children’s tastes for the rest of their lives. Weaning babies on pureed junk food, chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy sugary drinks just isn’t an option!
For more information on a good diet to feed your baby, have a look at these links:
Your health visitor will advise you on how often you should get your baby weighed to check they are gaining weight at the correct rate, and if you have any concerns you should have a chat with them.
Goodbye for now.