Dietary restraint and gestational weight gain

J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Oct;108(10):1646-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.07.016.


Objective: To determine whether a history of preconceptional dieting and restrained eating was related to higher weight gains in pregnancy.

Design: Dieting practices were assessed among a prospective cohort of pregnant women using the Revised Restraint Scale. Women were classified on three separate subscales as restrained eaters, dieters, and weight cyclers.

Subjects: Participants included 1,223 women in the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study.

Main outcome measures: Total gestational weight gain and adequacy of weight gain (ratio of observed/expected weight gain based on Institute of Medicine recommendations).

Statistical analyses performed: Multiple linear regression was used to model the two weight-gain outcomes, while controlling for potential confounders including physical activity and weight-gain attitudes.

Results: There was a positive association between each subscale and total weight gain, as well as adequacy of weight gain. Women classified as cyclers gained an average of 2 kg more than noncyclers and showed higher observed/expected ratios by 0.2 units. Among restrained eaters and dieters, there was a differential effect by body mass index. With the exception of underweight women, all other weight status women with a history of dieting or restrained eating gained more weight during pregnancy and had higher adequacy of weight gain ratios. In contrast, underweight women with a history of restrained eating behaviors gained less weight compared to underweight women without those behaviors.

Conclusions: Restrained eating behaviors were associated with weight gains above the Institute of Medicine's recommendations for normal, overweight, and obese women, and weight gains below the recommendations for underweight women. Excessive gestational weight gain is of concern because of its association with postpartum weight retention. The dietary restraint tool is useful for identifying women who would benefit from nutritional counseling prior to or during pregnancy with regard to achieving targeted weight-gain recommendations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Reducing* / psychology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Linear Models
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy / physiology
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thinness / psychology*
  • Weight Gain* / physiology