NCT response: NICE guidance on weight management

Released on: 20 July 2011

NICE - National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - has developed new public health guidance on dietary and physical activity interventions for weight management in pregnancy and after childbirth.

The new guidance is aimed at GPs, obstetricians, midwives, health visitors, dieticians, community pharmacists and all those working in antenatal and postnatal services and children’s centres. The recommendations cover four key areas: preparing for pregnancy; pregnant women and women who may become pregnant - particularly those with a BMI over 30kg/m2; and supporting women following childbirth.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, NCT, said:

“Thousands of women attend NCT courses each year and we know from listening to them that weight management and weight loss during and after pregnancy is a concerning issue. There’s also a lot of conflicting advice on exercise and how much weight to gain during pregnancy and how to lose it afterwards - this can set a worrying example by encouraging new mums to embark on drastic weight loss programmes, which are not only unrealistic, but can also be very unhealthy.

“Therefore, we welcome these NICE guidelines which should ensure better consistency of support from health professionals on exercise and weight management across the board, and will allow services to be tailored to meet women’s individual needs.

“Women are well motivated to make changes to their diet when they are pregnant and this opportunity can improve the family eating pattern for the future. Activities such as walking or swimming do not carry particular risks for pregnant women provided they are not done too strenuously, but pregnant women should check with their GP to make sure that any exercise they are planning to do is safe. Post pregnancy, activities such as breastfeeding can help women to return to their pre-pregnancy weight provided they follow a sensible diet.”