Obesity “So Common It’s Normal”

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Link to Article | http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,26226140-29277,00.html

Written by: Danny Rose

SUNDAY, October 18th, 2009 (news.com)–OBESITY could now be “so common it is perceived as normal”, an Australian researcher said today after a survey of pregnant women showed many were oblivious to being overweight. The Brisbane-based study took in 412 women and it found 30 per cent were either overweight or obese before they fell pregnant.

Associate Professor Leonie Callaway said when those women were asked what they thought about their weight, a third (36 per cent) responded it was normal.

Only 16 per cent of the women who were rated in the study’s top-most category because of their high Body Mass Index (BMI) score considered themselves to be obese.

“This may result in women having an inaccurate picture of the potential risk that their weight adds to a future pregnancy,” said Dr Callaway, who is based at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospitals and the University of Queensland’s School of Medicine.

“It is also possible that obesity is now so common it is perceived as normal.”

More than half (57 per cent) of the overweight and obese women said they had a health check-up before falling pregnant.

Dr Callaway said the research highlighted the importance of doctors calculating BMI, and advising women about the increased risk that extra weight would pose to a developing baby.

The research is published in the Medical Journal of Australia, where an accompanying editorial lists the risks of being overweight.

Professor Marc Keirse, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, said it could make conception more difficult.

In pregnancy, he said it could lead to gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and problems in delivery.

“It was also linked to increased risk of miscarriage, congenital malformations, stillbirth and perinatal death,” Prof Keirse said.

He said weight loss during pregnancy was not advisable, meaning more attention to a woman’s weight was needed before she fell pregnant.