Study probes cause of excessive pregnancy weight gain

hungry pregnant mum eating for two

hungry pregnant mum eating for two

We know we’re supposed to eat well during pregnancy, but why do some of us take “eating for two” a little too literally? Researchers believe they’ve found out why some pregnant women reach for the choccies more often than they should.

A lapse in self-control during pregnancy may be the reason behind excessive weight gain in half of mums to be, researchers at Victoria’s Deakin University say. They are starting a world-first study into why pregnant women struggle to maintain a healthy diet.

Dr Emily Kothe says previous studies show pregnant women don’t lack the motivation to eat well. “Mothers want to eat well for their, and their baby’s, health. But something is stopping them from being able to translate their motivation for healthy eating into action,” she says.

She believes the reason may lie in a limit to the amount of self-control women have to spend on controlling their food choices. She says people generally achieve only 47 per cent of the things they intend to do, partly because of lapses in self-control.

“So we all have a self-control limit, which is more likely to be reached when we’re stressed or tired or have been paying a lot of attention to controlling our behaviour,” she says. “It is possible that with all of the extra things that women have to deal with while pregnant, they simply reach the limit of their self-control when it comes to what they eat.”

Researchers are looking for participants for the study, which aims to find out why such a motivated group of women struggle so much when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. “The results will help to identify women who are at particular risk of slipping into poor eating patterns during pregnancy and to make sure that those women get effective support to meet their own healthy eating goals,” Dr Kothe says.

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Send this to a friend