Research: OLAFSDOTTIR and others,

Listed in Issue 142


OLAFSDOTTIR and others, Public Health Institute of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland, have studied the relationship between expectant mothers’ diet in late pregnancy and weight gain.   


The aim of this study was to identify dietary factors related to the risk of gaining weight outside recommendations for pregnancy weight gain and birth outcome.


In an observational study with free-living conditions, 495 healthy pregnant Icelandic women took part. The dietary intake of the women was estimated with a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire covering food intake together with lifestyle factors for the previous 3 months. Questionnaires were filled out at between 11 and 15 weeks and between 34 and 37 weeks gestation. Comparison of birth outcome between the three weight gain groups was made with ANOVA and Bonferroni post hoc tests.


26% of pregnant women gained suboptimal and 34% excessive weight during pregnancy. Women in late pregnancy with at least optimal weight gain were eating more (Odds Ratio = 3.32, p < 0.001) and drinking more milk (Odds Ratio = 3.10, p = 0.001), compared to women with suboptimal weight gain. The same dietary factors were related to excessive, compared with optimal, weight gain. Furthermore, eating more sweets early in pregnancy increased the risk of gaining excessive weight (Odds Ratio =2.52, p=0.029). Women with a body mass index of 25.0-29.9 before pregnancy were most likely to gain excessive weight (Odds Ratio = 7.37, p < 0.001). Women gaining suboptimal weight gave birth to lighter children (p < 0.001) and had shorter gestation (p = 0.008) than women gaining optimal or excessive weight.


Women who are overweight before pregnancy should get special attention regarding lifestyle modifications affecting consequent weight gain during pregnancy. They are most likely to gain excessive weight and therefore most likely to suffer pregnancy and delivery complications and struggle with increasing overweight and obesity after giving birth.


Olafsdottir AS, Skuladottir GV, Thorsdottir I, Hauksson A, Steingrimsdottir L. Maternal diet in early and late pregnancy in relation to weight gain. International Journal of Obesity 30 (3): 492-499, Mar 2006.

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