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Pregnancy Weight Gain May Predict Later Obesity

Pregnancy Weight Gain May Predict Later Obesity

October 29, 2001 By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For many women, the battle of the bulge may reach its zenith during pregnancy and after childbirth, but it may not stop there. New study findings show that if women retain the weight gained during pregnancy for even a year after childbirth, they are more likely to remain overweight or obese for at least another year, researchers report.

"Women should be aware that there is a bottom level that they must stay above but also a top level that they must stay below" for weight gain during pregnancy, Dr. Christine M. Olson, of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told Reuters Health.

Olson and her colleagues followed more than 600 women from the time they enrolled for prenatal care until 2 years after they gave birth. They presented their findings last week in Atlanta, Georgia during the 129th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association.

Women who were obese one year after childbirth were 25 times more likely to remain obese at the 2-year follow-up, the report indicates. This was evident in nearly two-thirds (64%) of the women, who were obese during their first and second years after childbirth.

"In our sample, women's weights don't seem to change substantially between one and two years postpartum," Olson said. "On average they retained 0.75 pounds at two years for every one pound retained at one year."

Overall, the women were an average 4 pounds heavier at their 2-year follow-up than they were before they became pregnant. Four in 10 women returned to their pre-pregnancy weights, but nearly one-quarter were 10 or more pounds heavier than their initial weights.

The weight change ranged anywhere from a loss of 38 pounds to a gain of 71 pounds compared with pre-pregnancy weights.

SOURCE: 129th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association.

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