Obesity During Pregnancy an Epidemic

Obesity among women who are pregnant is increasingly prevalent in England, reaching levels that have some health experts calling it an epidemic.

Women commonly gain excess weight during pregnancy, but going into pregnancy obese poses health risks for both the mother and her unborn child.

In the UK, almost 50 percent of pregnant women are overweight or obese, according to a recent report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice). Carrying too much excess weight puts them at a higher risk of developing serious health conditions during pregnancy, some of which can be fatal, such as pre-eclampsia, blood clots, miscarriages and still births.

Babies born to an obese mother are also at a higher risk to be premature, which is a leading cause of infant death and illnesses ranging from chronic breathing problems to cerebral palsy, impaired vision and hearing loss.

Nice recommends that pregnant women only drink water and have at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, which could include a brisk walk, swimming or cycling. Doctors also advise against eating double the amount of food when pregnant – no more “eating for two.” Instead, women who are pregnant should have an average of 200 more calories a day than they would normally eat, which amounts to about two bananas, according to the health watchdog. They also recommend that pregnant women make sure to eat breakfast so they’re less tempted to snack throughout the day.

Critics note that there is conflicting advice about weight gain and exercise during pregnancy and believe the recommendations will fall on deaf ears.

“This guidance won’t be taken seriously by the majority of pregnant women,” Jill Kirby, director of the Right-wing think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies, told UK’s Daily Mail. “It is so far removed from what they are going through. Aside from the whole subject of nanny-state intrusion it seems to me it is quite impractical.”

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