Diet and exercise do not reduce the risk of gestational diabetes

Diet and exercise do not reduce the risk of gestational diabetes

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Fewer carbohydrates during pregnancy could have a negative impact

In a new study, the widespread assumption that lower weight gain in obese pregnant women would be beneficial in preventing gestational diabetes could not be confirmed. It could be detrimental to the mother-to-be and the unborn child if fewer carbohydrates are consumed during pregnancy.

Previous assumption not confirmed

"For most women, blood sugar levels remain normal during pregnancy," explains the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) on its patient information portal "". "However, if the blood sugar exceeds certain values ​​during pregnancy, experts speak of gestational diabetes (gestational diabetes). It is found in around 4 out of 100 women, ”write the experts. So far, it has been believed that lower weight gain in obese pregnant women would be beneficial in preventing gestational diabetes. However, this assumption has not been confirmed in a new study.

Prevent gestational diabetes

Although gestational diabetes usually disappears immediately after birth, the disease can lead to serious health problems and also increase the risk of stillbirth.

It is therefore important to minimize the risk of this type of diabetes as much as possible. One of the most important risk factors is the excess weight of the expectant mother.

"Some women can prevent gestational diabetes (gestational diabetes) by regular exercise and a change in diet," says the IQWiG.

In addition, experts point out that healthy diet and plenty of exercise in gestational diabetes often do not require insulin.

However, researchers from Austria are now reporting that the risk of gestational diabetes is not reduced by diet and training.

Recommendation is often exceeded significantly

According to health experts, the recommendation of five to nine kilograms applies during pregnancy to very overweight people. However, this recommendation is often significantly exceeded.

To investigate options and indicators for preventing gestational diabetes in obese women, data on food intervention measures by hundreds of women have now been evaluated.

The study of the Clinical Department for Endocrinology and Metabolism at MedUni Vienna was recently published in the journal "Diabetes Care".

Food intervention measures evaluated

According to a communication from MedUni Vienna, food intervention measures were carried out in 436 women as part of the EU project DALI (Vitamin D And Lifestyle Intervention for Gestational Diabetes) with the substantial participation of the clinical department for endocrinology and metabolism under the direction of endocrinologist Alexandra-Kautzky-Willer evaluated.

As part of a coaching, a group of pregnant obese women were instructed to change their diet and to observe five measures: reduction of soft drinks, reduction of quickly absorbable carbohydrates and fat as well as an increase in protein and fiber.

The comparison group did not change their eating habits.

A second group of women exercised regularly and was advised accordingly. The comparison group did no physical activity.

As stated in the communication, those women who followed the nutritional measures actually had less weight gain.

However, higher blood sugar levels and increased amounts of substances in the blood that result from increased fat loss, such as fatty acid or ketone bodies, were also detectable. This was also related to a reduced carbohydrate intake.

In addition, increased free fatty acids were also found in the blood of newborn children.

Counteract the diabetes epidemic

According to the information, no changes in these metabolic markers were noticeable in the comparison groups.

However, according to the study, increased physical activity could not prevent gestational diabetes any more than the additional administration of vitamin D.

In summary, however, it can be said that nutritional interventions significantly influence maternal and child metabolism.

The advantage of lower weight gain while restricting carbohydrates in pregnant women with obesity also leads to increased fat loss and the associated release of free fatty acids in the blood of mother and child.

However, the consequences of this are still unclear and are being researched further. "Gestational diabetes is the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes in women after birth and also increases the risk of children through fetal programming," explains Kautzky-Willer.

“The development of preventive measures both during and after pregnancy is an important goal to counter the diabetes epidemic. Low carb may not be optimal, especially for pregnant women. "

The co-author of the study, Jürgen Harreiter, adds: "The evidence for optimal weight gain during pregnancy is still unclear, especially in overweight women, and requires further studies." (Ad)

More interesting articles on this topic can be found here:

  • Warm temperatures increase the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Underestimated risk: Stillbirth from gestational diabetes
  • Health insurance companies should reimburse costs for blood glucose meters

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Medical University of Vienna: Gestational diabetes: Diet and training do not reduce the risk, (access: July 12, 2019), Medical University of Vienna
  • Specialist journal "Diabetes Care": Nutritional Lifestyle Intervention in Obese Pregnant Women, Including Lower Carbohydrate Intake, Is Associated With Increased Maternal Free Fatty Acids, 3-β-Hydroxybutyrate, and Fasting Glucose Concentrations: A Secondary Factorial Analysis of the European Multicenter, Randomized Controlled DALI Lifestyle Intervention Trial, (accessed: July 12, 2019), Diabetes Care
  • Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care: Gestational Diabetes, (accessed: July 12, 2019), Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
  • Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care: What helps to prevent gestational diabetes ?, (accessed: July 12, 2019), Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

Video: Does gestational diabetes go away after the baby is born? (September 2022).


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