Myth busted: Having babies doesn’t make you fat

Pregnant belly on scales

Beautiful baby bellies are part and parcel of pregnancy and now new research has debunked the belief that having a baby triggers long-term weight gain.

The findings contradict previous studies that found a link between having children and weight gain.

Long-term weight gain not linked to motherhood

Gestational diabetes healthy diet

University of Canberra researchers studied more than 8,000 Australian women over a 16-year period and found other factors lead to women putting on weight.

“There is a long-held perception that having babies contributes to women’s weight gain leading to overweight and obesity. We now have found that this is not the case,” explained University of Canberra Professor of Midwifery and lead author, Deborah Davis.

What the Australian researchers did find is that not having a paid job and depression were heavily linked to weight gain in women.

“Women who had five or more babies in the 16-year study period were significantly heavier than all other women but once other factors were taken into consideration (such as socioeconomic status and education) this difference was not statistically significant,” Professor Davis said.

Protecting against weight-gain

Pram Exercise Class

The study also found that having a university education and high levels of physical activity may be a way to protect women against long-term weight gain.

“The levels of physical activity required to protect against becoming overweight and obese in the long term are more than those recommended currently in Australia.”

Professor Davis says women should be reassured by the study because having a baby is healthy and doesn’t have to impact on a woman’s weight.

Looking for healthy snacks to devour during pregnancy? Here are 50 nutritionist-approved healthy snacks for pregnancy.