Reducing calories to improve pregnancy outcomes in gestational diabetes

Diabetes which first develops in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) affects around 5% of pregnant women in the UK. Gestational diabetes causes short term issues in pregnancy, such as increased fetal growth and increased birth-weight, but it is also associated with an increased long-term risk of type 2 diabetes for both mother and child. Current guidelines advise women diagnosed with gestational diabetes to change towards a healthier diet during pregnancy and to increase exercise levels. Such changes can often help control blood glucose (sugar) levels without medication. However, there is not a lot of evidence about the best diet for women with gestational diabetes.

Researchers from Cambridge are recruiting 500 women diagnosed with gestational diabetes for a dietary intervention study led by Dr Claire Meek, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science. Participants will receive weekly home-delivered food boxes that contain all meals and snacks from 28 weeks pregnancy to when the baby is born. Women will be randomly allocated to receive either a standard calorie or a reduced calorie diet box.

The researchers are investigating the impact of the diet on the mother’s weight change in this period of pregnancy and on the baby’s birthweight. They are also making detailed measurements to investigate the impact of the diet on body fat changes. The mother’s usual diet will be measured before and after the diet box intervention using an online diet tool to record what they are eating and drinking (Intake24).

This innovative study, which is funded by Diabetes UK, will help to improve care for women with gestational diabetes and their babies in future.

Kusinski LC, Murphy HR, De Lucia Rolfe E, Rennie KL, Oude Griep LM, Hughes D, Taylor R, Meek CL. Dietary intervention in pregnant women with gestational diabetes: protocol for the DiGest Randomised Controlled Trial. Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 1165;


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