Don't diet during pregnancy, but aim for healthy weight before, NICE says

Women should not diet while pregnant, but should aim for a healthy weight before and after pregnancy, NICE has said.

However, celebrity claims of rapid weight loss after pregnancy ‘may create additional pressure on women to lose weight inappropriately’, the institute warned.

Women should try to gradually achieve a healthy weight after birth, it said, and there is no need for women to ‘eat for two’ when pregnant, new guidance said.

Women who are obese when they become pregnant face an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, NICE said. They include impaired glucose tolerance and gestational diabetes, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and thromboembolism.

The recommendations come in NICE’s public health guidance on dietary and physical activity interventions for weight management before, during and after pregnancy.

NICE decided against making recommendations about the amount of weight women should gain during pregnancy. It said that there was insufficient evidence on which to base any recommendations.

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said GPs’ have a crucial role in maternity care that begins preconception and continues after birth.

‘There is much conflicting information, particularly in the media, about what constitutes a healthy weight for a woman during and after pregnancy, and I welcome any guidance that can offer prospective and new mothers comprehensive direction and clarity,’ he said.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health excellence, said the guidance was ‘not about preaching to women’. ‘This guidance is about helping health professionals to help women have a healthy pregnancy,’ he said.

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