It’s Healthy for Some Pregnant Women to Diet, Study Says

The idea that a pregnant woman should “eat for two” is old-school.  About 40% of European and American women eat too much and gain more than the recommended pregnancy weight, which can lead to dangerous complications.

A British Medical Journal study found that the risk of  diabetes, high blood pressure and premature birth are reduced if overweight pregnant women count calories and eat healthy.  Dieting also lessened the risk of pre-eclampsia, a form of hypertension that can damage a pregnant mom’s kidneys and liver.

London researchers from Queen Mary’s University examined 44 previous studies that involved more than 7,000 pregnant women. Research leader Dr Shakila Thangaratinam said pregnant women who ate low calorie, healthy foods lost an average of 8.8 pounds. Oddly, pregnant women who added exercise to dieting tended to lose only half that amount.

The researchers warned against looking at diet as a cure-all or unbreakable safety net. The studies they examined had scant data about the mothers’ age, ethnicity and economic class. Those factors can increase a woman’s health risks despite good eating habits.

And your family should hesitate before kidnapping all the Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey if you gain a few pounds. London’s St Thomas Hospital researchers praised this study as “timely and welcome,” but said it produced no need to change current health guidelines for pregnancy weight gain. You can find those guidelines in clear chart form on WebMD.

Here are the guidelines for a first time mother, based on her Body Mass Index:

·         Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds

·         Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds

·         Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds

·         Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds