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Maternal Obesity

The health indicators were developed on the rationale that they related to several of the chronic disease states and the exercise of control over these indicators would lead to significant improvement of health to a high proportion of the population (Pivarnik, 2008). Obesity is considered to have reached epidemic proportions globally in the modern world. Along with growing rise of obesity in the general population, obesity during pregnancy is also on the rise. Obesity during pregnancy is now considered a common obstetric high-risk condition (Conway, 2011). Estimates suggest that one in four of women in the reproductive age group are obese in the USA (March of Dimes, 2010). This translates into one out of every five women being obese at the start of pregnancy highlighting the depth of the public health problem of maternal obesity (Kim et al, 2007). Significance of Maternal Obesity While in general the risk of obesity among the general population is heightened due to the life styles, the risk of obesity during pregnancy is even more because of the erstwhile practices and beliefs of women during pregnancy. Earlier it was believed that maternal weight gain was useful in enhancing infant health and reducing perinatal mortality. However, evidence from studies now point to excess of weight gain during pregnancy is detrimental to the mother, enhanced risks during delivery, and undesirable birth outcomes. It has also been found that 40% to 50 % of women during pregnancy put on more weight than is recommended by the Institute of medicine. Risk factors for this unwanted weight gain during pregnancy include higher pre-pregnancy weight, primiparity, lower income, poor knowledge of weight gain recommendations, lower levels of physical activity, and enhanced food consumption (Herring et al, 2008). Evaluation of the prevalence of maternal obesity across the cross-section of the female population in the US shows that the women from the racial and ethnic minorities and low socio-economic status are more prone to maternal obesity than women from the majority population and higher socio-economic groupings (DHHS, 2007). There are several reasons as to why maternal obesity is more prevalent among racial and ethnic minorities and the low socio-economic groups in the community. False beliefs of greater weight gain being beneficial to both mother and child make them prone to excess of nutritional intake. The high cost of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain and easy availability of low cost fast foods results in women from the economically segments of society more likely to use low cost unhealthy fast foods as the source of their increased nutrition, leading to unwanted weight gain and obesity during pregnancy (Larson, Story & Nelson, 2009). Lack of or poor facilities for physical activity in the lower income communities, depression, fatigue, and the lack of motivation to maintain one’s health among the women with low socioeconomic status also contributes to the greater prevalence of maternal obesity in this segment of the population (APA, 2011). Consequences of Maternal Obesity Evaluation of the consequences of maternal obesity has to be viewed from the three perspectives of consequences to the mother, ...Show more

Summary

Maternal Obesity Introduction The terms overweight and obesity are related to those ranges of body weight that are in general considered to be unhealthy, being higher than the maximum weight recommended for a given height of an individual. The excess weight in obesity is a reflection of the excess of fat present in the body, which has a frequent consequence of significant impairment of health…
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