JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effect of body image on pregnancy weight gain

Ushma J Mehta, Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Amy H Herring
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2011, 15 (3): 324-32
20204481
The majority of women gain more weight during pregnancy than what is recommended. Since gestational weight gain is related to short and long-term maternal health outcomes, it is important to identify women at greater risk of not adhering to guidelines. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between body image and gestational weight gain. The Body Image Assessment for Obesity tool was used to measure ideal and current body sizes in 1,192 women participating in the Pregnancy, Infection and Nutrition Study. Descriptive and multivariable techniques were used to assess the effects of ideal body size and discrepancy score (current-ideal body sizes), which reflected the level of body dissatisfaction, on gestational weight gain. Women who preferred to be thinner had increased risk of excessive gain if they started the pregnancy at a BMI ≤26 kg/m(2) but a decreased risk if they were overweight or obese. Comparing those who preferred thin body silhouettes to those who preferred average size silhouettes, low income women had increased risk of inadequate weight gain [RR = 1.76 (1.08, 2.88)] while those with lower education were at risk of excessive gain [RR = 1.11 (1.00, 1.22)]. Our results revealed that body image was associated with gestational weight gain but the relationship is complex. Identifying factors that affect whether certain women are at greater risk of gaining outside of guidelines may improve our ability to decrease pregnancy-related health problems.

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