Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on obesity, reproduction and pregnancy outcomes

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Topic(s): Nutrition Health & Wellness Obesity Nutrition & Disease Management

Obesity, reproduction and pregnancy outcomes: A position statement from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Widespread prevalence and increasing rates of overweight and obesity among women of reproductive age are a cause of concern for health care providers dealing with preconception, prenatal and postpartum services. A woman’s nutrition and weight status influences both maternal and foetal outcomes before and after conception.

The risk of poor maternal and foetal outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight infant, infant mortality related to preterm birth and low birth weight, gestational diabetes and hypertension, pre-eclampsia, assisted delivery and certain congenital anomalies may be reduced by effective weight loss before pregnancy. Poor pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, large for gestational age and macrosomia may be reduced through lifestyle interventions that regulate gestational weight gain. In addition, interventions through lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of significant postpartum weight retention. Evidence supports the role of diet, physical activity and behavioural changes in promoting optimal weight gain during pregnancy. Postpartum interventions through healthy diet and physical activity may also lead to decreased obesity-associated risks in subsequent pregnancies.

As per the position statement of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all women of reproductive age should be educated about maternal and foetal risks associated with prepregnancy obesity, excessive weight gain during pregnancy and significant postpartum weight retention. In addition, women of reproductive age should be educated about the potential advantages of lifestyle changes. Overweight and obese women should receive behavioural counselling to improve their dietary intake and physical activity in the preconception period, during pregnancy and for at least 12 to 18 months postpartum.

News Source: Stang J, Huffman L. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Obesity, Reproduction, and Pregnancy Outcomes. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(4):677-691.