THURSDAY, May 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) make some modest dietary improvements and maintain prediagnosis exercise routines, according to a study published online May 19 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Stefanie N. Hinkle, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues examined whether pregnant women receiving usual prenatal care changed their diet and exercise after a GDM diagnosis in a post-hoc secondary analysis using data from a prospective pregnancy cohort study. Pregnant women without major chronic medical conditions were enrolled from 12 participating hospital centers.

The researchers found that from before to after GDM diagnosis, the 72 women with GDM significantly reduced their total energy intake (−184 kcal/day) and carbohydrate intake (−47.6 g/day); these changes were unique to women with GDM and were not seen among the 1,299 women without GDM. Reductions were seen in intake of juice (−0.4 cups/day) and added sugar (−3.2 teaspoons/day) among women with GDM, and there were increases in intake of cheese (0.3 cups/day) and artificially sweetened beverages (0.2 cups/day). There was no change observed in exercise duration after diagnosis for the 84 women with GDM, while after GDM screening, the 1,791 women without GDM significantly decreased moderate and vigorous exercise.

“Although positive, these changes may represent ‘low hanging fruit,’ and there are likely remaining opportunities to further improve education and patient behavior related to dietary intake and exercise after a diagnosis of GDM,” the authors write.

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