DASH diet helped overweight pregnant women cut calories, limit weight gain

Researchers are reporting that with proper nutrition guidance it is safe and feasible to restrict weight gain in obese and overweight pregnant women. In the study, overweight women  who followed a special dietary and lifestyle intervention gained five pounds less during pregnancy than those who did not undergo the intervention. The study could help improve the health of pregnant women and their babies, they say.

Researchers have known for some time that being obese or overweight during pregnancy can result in serious health problems for both the mother and  child, such as diabetes and hypertension. In the new study, called MOMFIT (Maternal Offspring Metabolics Family Intervention Trial), researchers sought to see if a combined dietary and lifestyle intervention could safely guide overweight pregnant women in their weight control efforts. They assigned 140 pregnant women to a special diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet) in combination with counseling about a healthy lifestyle assisted by a smartphone diet app. The DASH diet emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean protein. The researchers compared the results to a similar group of 141 overweight pregnant women who received normal care minus the dietary intervention.

After 35 weeks, those on the DASH diet plus lifestyle intervention had significantly less weight gain than those without the intervention and did not experience any adverse infant outcomes. The study, partly funded by NHLBI, appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine