Fast food prior to pregnancy found to increase risk of gestational diabetes
01/08/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

A team of researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Medicine Faculty of the University of Navarra in Spain discovered that eating fast food before being pregnant may increase the risk of the woman developing gestational diabetes.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the data of more than 3,000 women who got pregnant between December 1999 and March 2011. They later found out that there were 159 incident cases of gestational diabetes.

Meanwhile, in the United States, it has been monitored that the risk of developing gestational diabetes can be lowered by eating healthily. Nutritionists recommend following the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, or the alternative Healthy Eating index prior to pregnancy.

“Each year in Europe between 104,000 and 312,000 cases are diagnosed, figures that continue to grow due to the increase of cases of obesity amongst fertile age mothers,” explained Maira Bes-Rastrollo, lead author of the study.

Gestational diabetes, as defined by the researchers, is “any degree of intolerance to glucose that starts or is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy.” They also identified that there are different biological factors that explain the high intake of fast food, such as hamburgers, sausages, and pizzas, which can potentially increase a mother's chance of developing gestational diabetes. Moreover, the saturated fats and cholesterol contained in red meat and processed meat from fast food and nitrites, which are precursors of nitrosamines in processed meats, increase this risk as well. These do so by interrupting the functioning of insulin and affecting the control of glucose levels.


This condition also increases the risk of the development of Type 2 diabetes to the mothers after pregnancy and to the children also. Bes-Rastrollo explained that children who were born to mothers with gestational diabetes have higher chances of becoming obese later on and of being intolerant to glucose from infancy up to the young adult stage. In addition, she noted that studies have exhibited prejudicial effects in the implantation and development of the embryo and indicated links between gestational diabetes and the cognitive and education abilities of the children. This study suggested that a change in diet can help lower the risk of diabetes in pregnant women.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in order to prevent developing gestational diabetes, it is important to lose extra weight before getting pregnant.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ePLOS ONE and the study was done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Palermo in Italy.

More on gestational diabetes

The NIH defines gestational diabetes as a type of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women, usually diagnosed within the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. Oftentimes, this condition will only show mild symptoms, such as being thirstier than normal or urinating more frequently. It is sometimes associated to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy that prevents the body to utilize insulin. Moreover, genetics and excess body weight may increase the risk of gestational diabetes.

The risk of gestational diabetes is higher among women who are overweight or obese, had a history of gestational diabetes, have a relative with Type 2 diabetes, are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander American, have a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, or have prediabetes, which indicates that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Read more studies about the dangers of eating fast food at

Sources include: 1 2

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