Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine studied the eating habits of overweight women during pregnancy, and found that those who expressed an “eating for two” were more likely to gain excessive weight, which contrary to what some may think is not recommended in their condition.

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Photo: babiesborn.blogspot.com

Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 to 29; obese is having a BMI greater than 29.  Doctors recommended  women of normal weight gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, while overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women, 11 to 20 pounds.

Cynthia Chuang, associate professor of medicine and public health sciences, decided to study the habits of overweight women during pregnancy. As such,  29 post-partum women who were overweight or obese before pregnancy were recruited for this purpose. Of these, 11 remained with margins and stuck to guidelines, while 18 exceeded the recommended weight gain.

Those who gained the appropriate amount of weight stuck to a meal plan and chose foods carefully. As such, these women didn’t consume more calories than they would normally do and exercised just as much as they did before getting pregnant. The women who gained more weight than they were supposed to, however, had fewer goals and exercised less than usual during their pregnancy. They also made less healthy food choices and ate more as a result of cravings.

The researchers found that a key difference that separates the two groups is mind set. Women who gained excessive weight described the experience as “eating for two.”  Apparently, there’s a false psychological input that eating more, no matter how much or what for that matter, is all the better. This would explain why None of the participants who exceeded the weight gain guidelines met the federal exercise guidelines, which recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or why only half of the women kept track of their weight when measured at prenatal care appointments or at home.

Too much weight gain during pregnancy can lead to postpartum and long-term weight gain and obesity. It can also cause premature birth and other unfavorable events.

“Women who closely monitor their weight gain during pregnancy can prevent future complications,” Chuang said.

The findings were reported in a paper published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.

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