Lifestyle interventions may help women with gestational diabetes avoid type 2 diabetes later in life

While some mothers-to-be start planning their post-pregnancy workout regimens months before their due dates, others may find themselves succumbing to ice cream cravings - they're going to gain weight either way, right?

That may be true, but some women who practice the latter are unaware that poor diet can increase their risk of developing diabetes at any time in life, whether it is gestational diabetes that sets in during pregnancy or type 2 diabetes.

By showing how to modify diet and physical activity habits during pregnancy, lifestyle interventions that focus on these areas may help women who have gestational diabetes shed their baby weight soon after delivery and avoid developing type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

The research involved a group of women with gestational diabetes, some of whom were provided with standard care, while others received counseling on weight management and breast feeding. The investigators said that the goal of the program was to help women return to their pre-pregnancy weight, or assist those who were initially overweight to reduce their body mass by 5 percent.

The study's results showed that more women in the intervention group achieved the postpartum weight goal, compared to those who received standard care. The findings indicated that mothers in the latter group consumed more fat throughout their pregnancy.

Lead researcher Assiamira Ferrara said that implementing diet and exercise interventions during pregnancy is crucial for women with gestational diabetes because "evidence shows that women who exceed Institute of Medicine guidelines during pregnancy retain twice as much weight compared to women who gain weight within recommendations."

The American Diabetes Association offers several tips on how individuals can increase their physical activity to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes or improve their condition if they have already been diagnosed. For example, one can simply walk their dog, choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and find a friend to exercise with.