The common belief
that pregnant women can eat for two has been scotched by University of London research suggesting
dieting during pregnancy can be beneficial.
Experts found that weight management was not
only safe but could also reduce complications for pregnant women and be advantageous to the
The risk of pre-eclampsia - which causes
high blood pressure - diabetes and premature birth can all be reduced if the mother-to-be sticks to
a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, the study published on bmj.com found.
In contrast, excessive weight gain during
pregnancy was linked to a number of serious health problems.In
the UK, more than half of women of reproductive age are said to be overweight or obese, and across
Europe and the US up to 40% of women gain more than the recommended weight in
But the team of researchers who analysed
results from 44 randomised controlled trials involving more than 7,000 women, found weight
management interventions in pregnancy were effective in reducing weight gain in the
mother.Dietary intervention resulted in the largest average
reduction in weight gain (almost 4kg) compared with 0.7kg for exercise and 1kg for a combination of
Researchers concluded: "Dietary intervention is effective,
safe and potentially cost effective and dominates physical activity-based
experts in London suggested there was not yet sufficient evidence to support any particular
Lucilla Poston, director of the maternal and fetal research
unit, and Lucy Chappell, clinical senior lecturer in maternal and fetal medicine, said it would be
"premature" for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to reassess its
guidelines, which do not advise regular weighing of pregnant women.