‘Eating for two’ during pregnancy will make you fat in middle age: But Pippa needn’t worry – it’s clear she wasn’t tempted!
- Doctors have said an increasing amount of women put too much weight on
- Those who don’t indulge whilst pregnant can avoid obesity in later life
- Research shows how some women have managed to stay slim after pregnancy
Women who ‘eat for two’ during pregnancy risk becoming fat for life, new research has warned.
While it is healthy for mothers-to-be to put on some weight, doctors say an increasing number pile on too many pounds.
Scientists have found that doing so could ‘reprogram’ a woman’s body to automatically lay down more fat in middle age.
By contrast, those who refuse the temptation to over-indulge during pregnancy may be afforded a degree of protection against obesity in later life.
Pippa Matthews (pictured above) was cautious about how much she ate during pregnancy
Kate Winslet (pictured above) has stayed slim following having three children
The study, by the University of California San Diego, provides clues to why some women, including mother-of-three Kate Winslet, 43, have stayed slim despite having comparatively big families.
Others, including the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa Matthews, who were cautious about how much they ate during pregnancy, can also look forward to keeping their enviable figures.
The research began when the team at UCSD noticed that more American women (38 per cent) are obese than men (34 per cent) and the gap widens from middle age. The difference – 27 per cent of women versus 26 per cent of men – is less marked in England, but does grow from middle age.
The Duchess of Cambridge (above) has kept the weight off following the royal births
In tests with mice, which share a similar physiology to humans when it comes to putting on weight, they found it was not inevitable for rodents to pile on the pounds after becoming mothers.
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY
Pregnancy health charity Tommy’s gives a list of actions which would have a positive impact on the health of a pregnancy and the future child if done before the mother stops contraception.
Take folic acid
Taking 400mcg of folic acid daily from two months before stopping contraception can help protect babies from developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Smoking during pregnancy causes 2,200 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths per year in the UK.
Be a healthy weight
Being overweight before and during pregnancy increases the risk of potentially dangerous conditions such as pre-eclampsia and diabetes.
Eat healthy and be active
A healthy mother is more likely to give birth to a healthy baby, and both will help maintain a safe body weight.
Speak to your GP if you are taking medication
Some medications may affect pregnancy, and it is best to check with a GP as soon as possible
However, if overfed while pregnant, maternal obesity became far more common.
Professor Jianhua Shao, who led the study, said all the mice shed weight after birth, regardless of whether they had eaten healthily or not during pregnancy, but from that point, those given an ‘unhealthy’ high-fat diet began to put weight back on.
Tests showed fat storage cells in the overfed mice became less responsive to oestrogen, a hormone that plays an important role in fat storage and energy use.
Professor Shao said this amounted to a ‘reprogramming’ of the metabolism, which predisposed the mice to put on weight in the long term.
‘If these findings hold true for humans, the take-out is that if you want to remain slim in later life, you need to avoid putting on too much weight during pregnancy,’ he added.
The research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, adds to growing evidence that overeating or carrying too much weight in pregnancy can be dangerous, including studies showing the children of women who were obese during pregnancy are more likely to grow up to be overweight or obese in adulthood.
It comes as a Southampton University study warns that half of all pregnant women in Britain put on too much weight.
Professor Keith Godfrey said it put them at greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life, particularly if they failed to shed the extra pounds after birth.