The weight of motherhood: Identifying obesity, gestational weight gain and physical activity level of Italian pregnant women
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonWomen's Health. 2021, 17(2021), Artikkel 17455065211016136. 10.1177/17455065211016136
Objective: Pre-pregnancy obesity and suboptimal gestational weight gain are on the rise globally and are independently associated with several maternal and neonatal complications. A healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, may improve health and reduce these complications, but many women are less active and willing to engage in physical activity with advancing gestation. Therefore, the inclusion of a wider range of physical activity such as domestic chore, occupational activity and active commuting may help pregnant women to meet the physical activity recommendations of 150 min/week. Very little is known about these issues in Italy, a country with strong traditional roles regarding pregnancy and motherhood, including “la famiglia” (the family). Primary objective describes health and lifestyle behavior of pregnant Italian women. Secondary objective reports total physical activity level, recreational exercise and context of these activities from pre-pregnancy and throughout gestation in regard to gestational weight gain management. Study design: Cross-sectional study performed in one public hospital and four antenatal clinics in Italy. Participants (n = 513) completed a validated self-administered questionnaire, the Physical Activity Pregnancy Questionnaire, in gestation week 36.01 (standard deviation 2.0). Pre-pregnancy body weight (kg) was self-reported, whereas maternal weight (kg) was measured at gestation week 36. In line with current American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines (2020), participants were categorized into regular physical activity (⩾150 min/week) or non-regular physical activity (<150 min/week). Results: Mean pre-pregnancy body-mass index was 22.8 kg/m2 (standard deviation 3.9), with 14.4% of women entering motherhood overweight and 5.3% obese. Mean gestational weight gain was 11.9 kg (standard deviation 4.1). Among those with a body-mass index ⩾25, 46.5% gained above the Institute of Medicine recommendations. With respect to recreational exercise/sport, 4.7% were active according to guidelines, whereas 82.7% accumulated ⩾150 min/week when combining exercise/sport with daily-life physical activity (commuting and occupational). Exercising ⩾150 min/ week and working 100% in third trimester were associated with gestational weight gain within Institute of Medicine recommendations (p = 0.06 and p = 0.03). Conclusion: Italian pregnant women have a low exercise level, still over 80% achieved a total physical activity level ⩾150 min/week when adding occupational and commuting activities. Nearly 50% of overweight and obese women exceeded the recommended gestational weight gain during pregnancy.
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