Chicago, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- While many would blame pregnancy for causing lasting weight gain and even obesity in child bearing women, a new study found that the real culprit seems to be lifestyle and age, according to a research released by the University of Michigan School of Nursing earlier this week.
In the new study, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing Olga Yakusheva examined the long-term weight gain of child bearing women compared to expected weight gain for women without kids.
Yakusheva and her colleagues looked at data for nearly 30,000 women who' d given birth between one and four times. They found that while most women never returned to their pre-pregnancy weight, their weight at 1-2 years after giving birth was almost identical to what they could have been expected to weigh if they didn't have children, according to the study.
The findings contradict common belief that adding extra pounds during pregnancy leads to long-term weight gain, but claimed that age and mom's lifestyle, like a busy mother denying her own exercise or finishing food on toddler's plate, were to blame for the weigh gain.
The study also found that women with and without children gained 1.94 pounds a year due to age, while the mothers with toddlers gained a full pound more annually than their childless peers.
"Many women really crank up their diet and exercise for a short time to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, and often get discouraged by the results. But it's much better to take a holistic approach focused on long-term healthy lifestyle before, during and after pregnancy," Yakusheva said.
Yakusheva also emphasized that these finding should not make mothers feel guilty.
"Understanding the demands of motherhood and age-related weight gain is important for promoting positive expectations of body image after pregnancy," she said " As long as women are healthy, that is what matters."