Body image impacts on weight gain during pregnancy

October 01, 2013

How women perceive their bodies during pregnancy and how that impacts on their weight gain has been the subject of a new study by University of Adelaide researchers.

Researchers in the University's Robinson Institute and the School of Psychology have studied more than 400 South Australian women to better understand the links between body image and excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

The results, published in the journal Women and Birth, show that more than 70% of pregnant women who are overweight or obese under-estimate their weight. Those who under-estimate their weight are more likely to experience a higher rate of weight gain during pregnancy.

The research was conducted by PhD student Zhixian Sui in the University's Robinson Institute, under the supervision of Professor Deborah Turnbull (School of Psychology) and Professor Jodie Dodd (Robinson Institute and Women's and Children's Hospital).

"There is very little research around the world that describes women's perception of body size and shape in early pregnancy. Because obesity and excessive weight gain pose a range of health risks for mother and child during pregnancy, and are linked to health problems in later life, it's important for us to better understand this issue," Professor Turnbull says.

Just 26% of women surveyed correctly identified their body mass index (BMI,) with 70% under-estimating and 4% over-estimating their BMI.

"Women who incorrectly identified their BMI were significantly more likely to have higher gestational weight gain, which suggests a disconnect between their perceptions and the realities of their weight," Professor Turnbull says.

Professor Dodd says: "The findings of our study have significant implications for clinicians delivering weight-related messages to women during pregnancy, and highlight the very complex influence of maternal perceptions and diet-related behaviors.

"Previous research has shown that women make healthy changes if they believe their health is at risk and if they have awareness of potential negative outcomes. We suggest that health care providers promoting healthy weight gain during pregnancy should integrate strategies to increase the awareness of potential risks in overweight and obese women."
-end-
This study has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Media contact:

Professor Deborah Turnbull
Chair in Psychology
School of Psychology
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 1229
deborah.turnbull@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.