1 in 3 women report ‘out-of-control’ eating during pregnancy

A study by UCL of over 11,000 women found that 36% experienced ‘loss of control’ with their eating when pregnant.

Pregnant woman standing in front of an open fridge

Pregnancy news, 05/06/2018

Research carried out at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health found that more than 1 in 3 women reported feeling out of control over the amount they eat in pregnancy, with many pregnant women eat far more than the recommended daily calorie intake. This can contribute to unhealthy pregnancy weight gain, which can increase the risk of complications for both mum and baby.

The study found that 36.3% of women experienced ‘loss of control’ eating in pregnancy – a characteristic feature of binge eating defined as feeling out of control whilst eating, irrespective of the amount consumed.

UCL’s study of over 11,000 women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discovered that over-eating during pregnancy can affect the health of the baby into childhood and adolescence. They say that children of women who over eat during pregnancy have double the chance of becoming obese by the age of 15.

‘This is the first study to look into loss of control eating during pregnancy and its effects on pregnancy, child birth-weight and long-term weight. We found loss of control eating is common and despite having serious implications for mothers and children, it has received very little attention. Gestational weight gain not only puts children at a greater risk of being obese but is a predictor of later obesity in mothers.’Researcher Dr Nadia Micali, of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health

Eating for two

The myth around eating in pregnancy is that women need to 'eat for two', and many are encouraged to have extra food or indulge in more snacks for this reason. In reality, babies take everything they need from mum for the first six months (in most cases) without them needing any extra calories at all.

Here are the current guidelines:

First and second trimester

Eating a normal balanced diet of no more than 2,000 calories per day during the first and second trimester is the best thing for the majority of mums-to-be and their unborn babies.

Find out what a healthy pregnancy diet looks like.

Third trimester

Most pregnant women will only need an extra 200 calories per day in the third trimester.

Watch Tommy’s film for examples of what 200 calories looks like:

Our midwife Sophie says,

'We know that it can feel like you are constantly ducking and diving between the foods to avoid and those that are great for you and your growing baby in pregnancy. For most of us, eating yummy food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and healthy eating can be tough, but hang in there! There are still plenty of tasty pregnancy-safe treats that you can enjoy whilst giving you and your growing bump all of the nutrients it needs to flourish!'

Find out more about weight management during pregnancy

Find out more about pregnancy nutrition

More on nutrition in pregnancy

  • Hummus in a pot and carrot sticks to the left

    200 calorie pregnancy snacks

    How much should you eat in pregnancy? During most of your pregnancy you do not need to take in extra calories (over the recommended 2,000 a day for women).

  • A healthy vegetarian salad with bread

    Nutrition in pregnancy

    Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat well. Good nutrition will keep you healthy and help your baby grow and develop.

  • Box of fresh vegetables

    Healthy eating tips

    Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you have a healthier pregnancy and manage your weight gain.

More pregnancy news and blogs

Was this information useful?

Yes No