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Obes Res. 1995 Sep;3 Suppl 2:267s-275s.

Pregnancy as a risk factor for obesity: lessons from the Stockholm Pregnancy and Weight Development Study.

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  • 1Obesity Unit, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Pregnancy and maternal body weight development are intertwined in complicated patterns. In most studies, an increase in maternal body weight with age and parity has been reported. For women who develop obesity, pregnancies can, in retrospect, be identified as important triggering life events. In a retrospective analysis of 128 women at our Obesity Unit, 73% of these severely obese patients had retained more than 10 kg in connection with a pregnancy. For the general population, the effect of a pregnancy on future weight development is surprisingly difficult to predict. In The Stockholm Pregnancy and Weight Development Study, the effects of pregnancy on weight retention one year after delivery were studied in 1423 women. Data were collected retrospectively from routine pregnancy records and then extended prospectively 6 and 12 months after delivery. The mean weight retention associated with a pregnancy one year after delivery was estimated to about 0.5 kg, with a range of -12 to +26 kg. Fourteen percent of the women gained more than 5 kg. Weight increase during pregnancy was the strongest predictor for sustained weight retention 1 year later. Prepregnancy weight did not predict the weight development outcome. The lactation pattern had only a minor influence on weight development. Smoking cessation was an important predictor for sustained weight increase. More weight retention was observed in those women who reported a change in lifestyle as regarded eating habits, meal patterns, and physical activity, suggesting that eventual body weight after pregnancy is more determined by the changes in association with that particular pregnancy than with the lifestyle before.

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