ST. LOUIS Most women who are obese can safely exercise and diet to lose weight during pregnancy, according to a small pilot study conducted by Saint Louis University researchers.
Doctors hadnt encouraged pregnant women who were obese to limit their weight gain or have them lose weight because they were afraid it would hurt the baby, says Raul Artal, M.D., principal investigator and chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and womens health at Saint Louis University.
We found that obese women do not have to gain any weight, and, in fact, can lose weight and it wont hurt the baby. Pregnancy is an ideal time to start an exercise and fitness program, particularly for women who are obese.
Dr. Artal is an internationally recognized expert who has conducted extensive research on exercise during pregnancy and is the lead author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists current guidelines on exercise for pregnant women.
The new research flies in the face of the eat for two and take it easy advice that obstetricians gave to a past generation of moms-to-be.
There are so many more obese women and men. We are witnessing an epidemic of overweight and obesity, Dr. Artal says. Pregnancy seems to be an ideal time for behavior modification.
Pregnant women are more likely to regularly see a doctor and tend to be highly motivated to make lifestyle changes that protect the health of their babies, he added.
For this study, Dr. Artal and his colleagues examined two groups of pregnant women who were obese and had gestational diabetes, a condition common in about 7 percent of all pregnancies. Of the 96 women studied, 39 dieted and exercised to control their weight and 57 followed the diet routinely given to patients who have gestational diabetes.
Those who exercised were supervised riding a semi-recumbent stationary cycle or walking on a treadmill at least once a week. They also
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Saint Louis University