Food and Behaviour Research

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Pregnancy loss of control over eating: a longitudinal study of maternal and child outcomes

Micali N, Al Essimii H, Field AE, Treasure J (2018) Am J Clin Nutr.  2018 Jun 5.  doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy040. [Epub ahead of print] 

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To our knowledge, no previous studies have investigated longitudinal outcomes of maternal loss of control over eating (LOC) in pregnancy in a general population sample.


We aimed to determine whether pregnancy LOC is associated with dietary, gestational weight gain, and offspring birth-weight outcomes in a large population-based prospective study of pregnant women and their children. We also explored the association with offspring weight at age 15.5 y.


Women (n = 11,132) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were included. Crude and adjusted logistic and multinomial regression models were used. LOC in pregnancy and diet at 32 wk of gestation were assessed by self-report. Pregnancy weight gain and birth weight were obtained from obstetric records. Child weight and height were objectively measured at age 15.5 y.


LOC in pregnancy was common (36.3%). Women with pregnancy LOC reported higher total energy intake, consumed more snacks, and had lower vitamin B-6, A, and C intake compared with women without LOC. Women with frequent LOC had lower vitamin B-1 and folate intake [respectively: b = -0.05 (95% CI: -0.07, -0.02) and b = -7.1 (95% CI: -11.8, -2.3) in adjusted analyses], and gained on average 3.74 kg (95% CI: 3.33, 4.13 kg) more than women without LOC. Frequent and occasional LOC were associated with higher birth weight [respectively: b = 0.07 (95% CI: 0.03, 0.1), b = 0.04 (95% CI: 0.02, 0.06)]. Offspring of mothers with frequent pregnancy LOC had 2-fold increased odds of being overweight/obese at 15.5 y [OR = 2.02 (95% CI: 1.37, 3.01)].


Pregnancy LOC eating is common and has an adverse short- and long-term impact on mother and offspring, but has received very limited attention. Our findings further the understanding of risk factors for obesity and highlight a need for improved identification of maternal pregnancy loss of control eating.


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