A diet and exercise regime for high-risk obese pregnant women, though effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle, does not prevent gestational diabetes.
Experts at Newcastle University suggests that programs promoting healthy behaviors are unlikely to be effective in preventing gestational diabetes in obese women.
The randomized UPBEAT study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and led by King's College London, recruited more than 1,500 women from eight inner-city antenatal services providing care to multi-ethnic populations of generally high socioeconomic deprivation across the UK.
Dr Ruth Bell, Senior lecturer at Newcastle University's Institute of Health and Society and honorary NHS consultant said, "Our study shows that an intensive diet and exercise regime alone cannot help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes in obese women."
Standard antenatal care and advice was given to one group while the other group were assigned to 8-weekly, health trainer-led sessions. Exercise focused on increasing the amount of walking at a moderate intensity, and the women were advised to adopt a healthier diet by swapping carb-rich foods for those with a lower glycemic index and limiting saturated fat intake.
Overall, 26% of all participants were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but the study found no significant difference between the standard and intervention groups. Large-for-gestational-age delivery infants made up 9% but no difference was observed between standard and intervention groups.
The intervention led to other changes in the intervention group such a lower glycemic load and fat intake along with higher levels of activity, which were associated with reductions in pregnancy weight gain and reduced body fat.