Gestational Diabetes and Obesity: A Risky Mix

Pregancy icons
Obesity (BMI of 30 and up) causes insulin resistance, an underlying abnormality of gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Women who are obese when diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (diabetes associated with pregnancy) and who subsequently gain more weight are at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published by the journal Diabetologia.

Researchers followed women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more for 18 years after their gestational diabetes diagnosis. They found that the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes went up with every 2.2 pounds of additional weight gain. For each 11-pound weight increase, the risk increased by 27%.

The results of this study are not surprising. A high BMI causes an increase in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is an underlying abnormality of both gestational and Type 2 diabetes.

Reducing the Risk

It is crucial for women with a history of gestational diabetes to maintain healthy weight and activity levels. Research has proven that those with a high BMI who lose 5 to 7% of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes a week significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Starting a family can motivate some women who have struggled with extra weight and sedentary lifestyles. Establishing healthy habits can have a positive impact on children and family lifestyles.

Breastfeeding plays an important role, too. Nursing is associated with weight loss for the mother, plus a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes for both mom and her baby. Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of childhood obesity as well. Nursing decreases children’s insulin resistance, among many other long-term benefits. Women who are most successful at breastfeeding received education while they are pregnant.

North Shore-LIJ’s Diabetes Wellness Programs include gestational diabetes education, plus diabetes self management and education on insulin pumps and outpatient insulin therapy. Email us for more information.

Join us tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the North Shore-LIJ Diabetes Health and Product Fair for free diabetes, kidney, and blood pressure screenings; free foot exams; presentations on healthy living; take-home information; and exhibits. Come to the LIJ Medical Center Teaching Center at 270-05 76th Ave., New Hyde Park, NY 11040.

Topics: News

Focus onHealth TV

Watch Focus onHealth, Northwell Health's TV show. It's the healthy way to stay informed!