Can dietary added sugars and soluble fiber affect postpartum weight?

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically during the last decades. This growth is associated with differences between race or ethnicity, where Hispanic women are among the most affected demographics. Pregnancy overweight and obesity among Hispanic women increase the risk of excess gestational weight gain.

A study by Alderete et al., 2020, aimed to determine whether dietary sugars and fiber intake were associated with changes in postpartum weight.

The relative amount, as well as the type of dietary carbohydrates consumed, may significantly affect weight trajectories, especially because carbohydrates make up the greatest proportion of human energy intake. Moreover, the consumption of highly processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and high-glycemic-index diets may increase body weight. Whereas, dietary fiber may protect the development of obesity by aiding in weight loss.

This study examined 99 Hispanic women from the longitudinal Southern California Mother’s Milk Study at 1 and 6 months postpartum. Height, weight, and dietary intake based on 24-h diet recalls were included in the maternal assessment. There were collected historical health-related information regarding family health history, mental health history, maternal health history, maternal pregnancy body-mass index BMI, age at delivery, delivery mode, natural birth or cesarean delivery, and infant sex.

Before pregnancy, 29.3% of women were healthy weight, 38.4% were overweight, and 32.3% were obese.

In this study, 59.6% of participants consumed more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars, which was equal to approximately 46.9 g added sugar per day. Higher dietary sugar intake was associated with a higher maternal weight gain from 1 to 6 months after delivery. The most common sources of soluble fiber include granola bars, fortified instant oatmeal, pinto beans, vegetables, and fruit. Only 33.3% of women in this study consumed more than 6 grams of soluble fiber per day, which is the suggested amount to be consumed.

Results from this study show that dietary sugars in the form of added sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages were positively associated with greater postpartum weight gain among Hispanic women. There was also found that dietary soluble fiber was associated with postpartum weight loss. In conclusion, the results provide the first evidence that dietary added sugars and soluble fiber may affect postpartum weight trajectories among Hispanic women, a group with high rates of overweight and obesity.

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