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Excessive gestational weight gain over multiple pregnancies and the prevalence of obesity at age 40




Although several studies have found an association between excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) and obesity later in life, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have explored the role of GWG events across the life course.

Design and methods:

We describe how the prevalence of midlife obesity (BMI30 at age 40 or 41) among women varies by life course patterns of GWG (using 2009 IOM guidelines) in the USA’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort.


Among women who reported 1–3 births before age 40, the prevalence of midlife obesity increased with a rising number of excessive GWG events: from none (23.4%, n=875) to one (37.6%, n=707), from none (23.4%, n=875) to two (46.8%, n=427) and from none (23.4%, n=875) to three (54.6%, n=108), P<0.00005 for trend. Obesity prevalence was similar for the same number of excessive GWG events, regardless of parity. No clear pattern emerged for the sequencing of excessive GWG event(s) and later obesity.


In our descriptive exploratory study, excessive GWG events appear to be associated with increased prevalence of obesity for parous women, suggesting the importance of preventive interventions regardless of timing of pregnancy-related weight changes over the life course.

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (grant 5R01MD6104-2).

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Correspondence to B Abrams.

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Cohen, A., Chaffee, B., Rehkopf, D. et al. Excessive gestational weight gain over multiple pregnancies and the prevalence of obesity at age 40. Int J Obes 38, 714–718 (2014).

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