How can I Reduce my Risk of Developing Gestational Diabetes?
By Dr. Kate Dudek
The number of people with type 2 diabetes in the MENA region is growing. Prevalence rates are estimated to be as high as 25% (compared to 2.4% in the early 1980s) and it is the region’s fifth biggest killer. Women have a particularly high risk of developing the condition, possibly because the proportion of females who are obese is increasing.
One factor that puts females at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes is the development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The good news is that by implementing various lifestyle changes you can reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes and, therefore also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
One of the biggest controllable risk factors for gestational diabetes is obesity. It is estimated that women who are obese (BMI > 30) are four times more likely to develop gestational diabetes and those who are severely obese (BMI > 40) are eight times more likely. Furthermore, more than 70% of women with gestational diabetes have a BMI > 25.
This means that by adopting a healthier lifestyle and losing weight, women can significantly reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes. It is important to not only consider what you are eating throughout your pregnancy, but also to look at your diet before you attempt to conceive. Eating well will not only help you to get pregnant, but also improve the health of future offspring. Children whose mothers were obese prior to conception have an increased risk of developing childhood obesity.
So, reduce your intake of unhealthy food such as crisps, chocolate and sweetened juice drinks. Try to increase the levels of omega-3 in your diet by eating more fish, seeds and nuts and increase your consumption of vegetables and fruit. Adopt a healthier lifestyle by walking whenever possible and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only will you reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, but you will also improve your overall health.
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- Leng, J, et al. “GDM Women's Pre-Pregnancy Overweight/Obesity and Gestational Weight Gain on Offspring Overweight Status.” PLos One, vol. 10, no. 6, 22 June 2015, p. e0129536., doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129536.