Half of Canadian women gain too much weight during pregnancy. Excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) may have short- and long-term consequences for the mother, including elevated maternal risk for weight retention and obesity. Taking charge of Canadian women by helping them reach optimal diet and adequate weight during pregnancy is, therefore, critical. However, before initiating such interventions, some components need to be carefully examined. Multiple factors influence GWG and food intake. Among those, we can cite nutrition knowledge, body image concerns, eating behaviors as well as social support and women's beliefs on GWG. These factors are often forgotten by health care providers and not frequently considered in intervention studies. Furthermore, how these factors interact with diet and GWG to influence obesity risk still needs to be confirmed. Such characterization is especially urgent and essential in the context of the increasing number of women showing excessive GWG.
We are actually studying those components, first, in a pilot study including 86 pregnant women. Second, we will verify the interaction between those factors in a larger study including 250 women from various economic status. Indeed, we could ultimately develop effective interventions for pregnant women to optimize nutrition and gestational weight gain. Those actions will positively impact on the health of the mother by preventing future obesity risk and related chronic diseases and will also improve health of future generations.