Does being diagnosed with gestational diabetes encourage lifestyle changes?

Dr Sara White, Prof Lucilla Poston, Dr Angela Flynn, Ms La’shay Yeboa-Atakora

Our researchers studied whether being diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy encourages obese women to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The results could help us support these women during pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications which could affect the baby’s health.

This project is now complete

Why do we need this research?

Being obese during pregnancy can increase the chances of complications, including gestational diabetes. This can have a negative impact on the health of both mother and baby. We need to understand how best to help obese pregnant women minimise these risks, so that can give birth to a healthy baby.

What happened in this project?

During the UPBEAT study, more than 1,500 obese pregnant women were encouraged to adopt healthier lifestyles to see if it could help them reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. Some of these women would go on to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes at the beginning of their third trimester, and others did not.

After the study, our researchers were interested in whether there were any differences in the lifestyles of women who developed gestational diabetes compared to those who didn’t. In other words, did the diagnosis of gestational diabetes had any effect on whether they adopted healthier lifestyles during their third trimester?

After reanalysing the data from UPBEAT, our researchers found that obese women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes gained less weight and adopted a healthier diet, compared to women who were not diagnosed. On the other hand, being diagnosed did not have any effect on the physical activity done by the women. Our researchers found that the women who were not diagnosed with diabetes continued to gain weight, but their diet did not get worse over time.

What difference will this project make?

The results of this study suggest that being diagnosed with gestational diabetes does make women more likely to adopt healthier lifestyles. Our researchers are now interested in finding out why women who are not diagnosed do not change their lifestyle as readily, and what can be done to help them do so. Ultimately, this work could help us understand how to best help obese women increase their chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Thanks for your interest in our research

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.

More research projects

Help us find out how things go wrong in pregnancy

Read Tommy's new and views

  • A nurse taking a patients blood pressure in a hospital room


    Pregnancy is a unique chance to predict health risks to mums

    A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.

  • Rising demand for Tommy's midwives in coronavirus lockdown


    Tommy’s awarded grant to help meet rising demand for support during coronavirus lockdown

    Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.

  • Tommy's researchers latest findings


    Tommy’s Research Centres continue vital work on pregnancy complications

    Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.

  • Blog

    Miscarriage during lockdown

    The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No