Does being diagnosed with gestational diabetes encourage lifestyle changes?

Our researchers have been finding out whether a diagnosis of diabetes during pregnancy encourages obese women to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
  • Authors list

    La’Shay Atakora, Dr Sara White, Professor Lucilla Poston, Dr Angela Flynn, Dr Louise Hayes

    Start date: 2019
    End date: 2019

  • Research centre

  • Research status

    Completed projects

Why do we need this research?

Being obese can increase a woman’s chances of being diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, which is known as 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 this could help them reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. Some of these women were diagnosed with gestational diabetes at the beginning of their third trimester, while others were not. After the study, our researchers wanted to find out whether the diagnosis of gestational diabetes had any effect on whether the women adopted healthier lifestyles during their third trimester.

After re-analysing the data from UPBEAT, our researchers found that, on average, the obese women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes went on to gain less weight and adopted a healthier diet than the women who did not have gestational diabetes. The women who did not have gestational 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 a diagnosis of gestational diabetes makes 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. Ultimately, this work could help us understand how best to help obese women increase their chances of having 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.