Study links fast food to cause gestational diabetes

A study, published in the Journal ePLOS ONE, finds that women consuming fast food prior to pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes. The researchers belonged with the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Medicine Faculty of the University of Navarra in Spain. In addition, researchers from the University of Palermo in Italy also worked in collaboration for the research.

They have clearly revealed that eating fast food before pregnancy increases the risk of the gestational diabetes among women.

For the study, the researchers examined the data of more than 3,000 women who got pregnant between December 1999 and March 2011. 159 incident cases of gestational diabetes were reported after the analysis.
Health experts, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), suggest that to prevent gestational diabetes it is necessary for the women to lose extra weight before pregnancy.

Furthermore, experts from the United States have determined benefits of a healthy diet in alleviating the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Nutritionists advise the following diets before pregnancy,

  • The Mediterranean diet
  • The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet
  • The alternative Healthy Eating index

Maira Bes-Rastrollo, the lead author of the study, revealed that in Europe between 104,000 and 312,000 cases of gestational diabetes are diagnosed annually. These figures continue to grow due to the increased cases of obesity amongst fertile age mothers.

The researchers identified different biological factors explaining the high intake of fast food that potentially increases a mother’s chance of developing gestational diabetes. The saturated fats and cholesterol in the processed foods, nitrites i.e. the precursors of nitrosamines in processed meats increase this risk. They interrupt the functioning of insulin, disturbing the control of glucose levels.

Gestational diabetes leads to complications in later life

The study also reports that this condition may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes in the mothers after pregnancy and the children as well.

Bes-Rastrollo added that children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of developing obesity and glucose intolerance from infancy up to the young adult stage. She further noted that various studies exhibit harmful effects in the implantation and development of the embryo. They indicate detrimental links between gestational diabetes and the cognitive and education abilities of the children.

This study also suggests that a healthy change in diet can possibly lower the risk of diabetes in pregnant women.

More on gestational diabetes

Researchers define gestational diabetes as any degree of glucose intolerance diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. The NIH defines gestational diabetes as a type of diabetes usually diagnosed within the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. This condition, most of the times, shows mild symptoms including,

  • Frequent feeling of thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Hormonal changes preventing the body to utilize insulin

Genetics and excess body weight increase the risk of the condition.

Overweight or obese women, with a history of gestational diabetes, are at the greatest risk of developing it. Moreover, African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander American women demonstrate greater risks of developing the condition. Conditions like a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, or prediabetes also add to the situation. Prediabetes indicates blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Bo Walkden

Bo Walkden graduated from the University of Tennessee with a major in biology and a minor in Sociology. Bo grew up in Nashville but moved to Memphis for college. Bo has written for several major publications including the Knoxville News Sentinel and NPR. Bo is a community reporter and also covers stories important to all Americans. Contact Email: bo@tophealthjournal.com. Phone: 720.213.5824

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