Obesity in Pregnancy: Gynecologist shares risk factors and ways to tackle condition

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New Delhi: Obesity is one of the major burdens that has grappled the world. Especially, during pregnancy, most women tend to gain weight. Obesity during pregnancy can lead to severe health problems. Dr Sunita Sharma, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Infertility Specialist, Fortis Nagarbhavi, Bangalore told News9, “Obesity has emerged as a critical health concern globally, and India grapples with its own set of challenges in combating this issue. Pregnant women, in particular face heightened risks associated with obesity, exacerbated by sedentary lifestyles that jeopardise the well-being of both mother and child.”

The Connection Between Obesity, Sedentary Lifestyles, and Pregnancy

Increased Risk of Gestational Diabetes: Obesity and sedentary lifestyles compromise the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, significantly escalating the likelihood of gestational diabetes. This condition can lead to complications such as excessive fetal growth, birth trauma, and an increased predisposition for the child to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.

Elevated Blood Pressure and Hypertension: Excess weight and lack of physical activity elevate blood pressure levels, paving the way for conditions like preeclampsia during pregnancy. Preeclampsia poses severe risks to both mother and baby, and it also predisposes the mother to heart disease and stroke later in life.

Increased Risk of Anxiety and Depression: The hormonal changes and physical discomfort experienced during pregnancy, combined with the stress of potential complications associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, can significantly increase the risk of anxiety and depression in expecting mothers.
Other Complications: Obesity during pregnancy, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, heightens the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, cesarean delivery, blood clots, and sleep apnea.

Tackling Obesity and Inactivity in India

Addressing the escalating rates of obesity and its associated risks demands multifaceted interventions in India:

• Promoting Healthy Eating: While traditional Indian diets are nutrient-rich, modern dietary trends incline towards processed foods high in fats, sugars, and salt. Nutrition counselling and educational resources should advocate for healthier dietary choices, particularly before, during, and after pregnancy.

• Encouraging Physical Activity: Cultural norms, inadequate safe exercise spaces, and time constraints often hinder women from engaging in physical activity. There’s a need to promote safe and accessible forms of exercise that pregnant women can seamlessly incorporate into their daily routines.

• Preconception and Prenatal Care: Providing weight management counselling before pregnancy can facilitate women in attaining a healthier weight before conception. During pregnancy, vigilant monitoring of weight gain, blood sugar, and blood pressure is imperative.

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