Women who have a history of dieting before getting pregnant may be gaining an inappropriate amount of weight during pregnancy, reported researchers from the University of North Carolina.

Being concerned with low birth weight and preterm birth on the babies' cognitive and overall health performance, the researchers focused their attention on determining factors for inadequate weight gain during pregnancy but found the rising prevalence of obesity among women of childbearing age and the high proportion of women who are gaining in excess of recommendations during pregnancy.
This is how their focus shifted on excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

The Institute of Medicine suggests that women should gain 28 to 40 lbs, 25 to 35 lbs, 15 to 25 lbs and at least 15 lbs for underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese women, respectively.

Over 1200 women were assigned to a study designed to determine if a history of preconception dieting practices and restrained eating were in any way related to higher weight gains in pregnancy, and whether this differed by prepregnancy BMI status.

Study participants had to complete a questionnaire that focused on their preconception eating habits.

The study found that restrained eating behaviors were associated with not gaining within the targeted weight gains but in excess of recommendations while the underweight women gained below the recommendations, when compared to women who did not display restrained eating behaviors.

Authors of the study believe that the information gained from the study should be used by dietitians and health care providers at a preconception care visit or during family planning to identify women at risk for unhealthy eating behaviors.

During pregnancy, these women should be targeted with nutritional and physical activity strategies in order to avoid excessive weight gain and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as caesarean sections, Macrosomia, and large-for-gestational age (LGA) as well as shorter duration of breastfeeding and higher weight retention in the postpartum period.