Newswise — University of South Australia researchers are appealing for greater support mechanisms to help women diagnosed with gestational diabetes return to or maintain a healthy weight post pregnancy.

The call comes after new research shows women are struggling to prioritise their personal health after gestational diabetes, despite understanding their increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting more than 38,000 pregnant women each year. Women with gestational diabetes are one of the highest risk groups for type 2 diabetes in Australia.

UniSA lead researcher and PhD candidate Kristy Gray says it’s important to understand the barriers to weight loss for women who have had gestational diabetes if we are to help reduce the growing incidence of type 2 diabetes.

“In Australia, 1.3 million people are living with diabetes with 280 new diagnoses are made every day,” Gray says.

“Women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes have seven times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, making them one of the most at-risk groups.

“Of course, gestational diabetes doesn’t only occur in women who are overweight, but for those who have had gestational diabetes and are also overweight, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes is increased.

“Weight loss and healthy eating can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but losing weight after pregnancy can be challenging, especially with the demands of motherhood.

“Many women do not naturally lose weight after pregnancy, retaining on average between 0.5 - 4.0 kilograms 12 months after pregnancy.

“This research shows that despite women being well informed about the right foods to eat and the need to exercise (including the range of diet and exercise programs and trackers), women identify their primary barrier to weight loss as ‘family responsibilities’, with 62 per cent prioritising this over their personal health.”

Assessing 429 women (aged 30-44) previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes the research explored their knowledge of their risk of type 2 diabetes, barriers and enablers to losing weight after having children, and potential diet strategies that could assist with weight loss.

Gray says the research highlights the need for women with previous gestational diabetes and a high risk of type 2 diabetes to be able to access more individualised support services and professional guidance to lose weight.

“Barriers to weight loss and effective diet strategies can greatly vary between individuals – there is no one solution for everyone,” Gray says.

“Two-thirds of the women interviewed said that individual appointments with a dietitian or nutritionist would help them to lose weight, but unfortunately, these appointments are not affordable for everyone.”

Gray says the Medicare rebates for dietitian or nutritionist appointments are excellent for people diagnosed with diabetes, but further rebates would help women in a high risk category to access such services before they are diagnosed with diabetes.

“As a nation, we need to start thinking differently about preventative services,” Gray says.

“If we are to effectively tackle type 2 diabetes, it’s imperative we look beyond diagnosis and find ways to prevent chronic disease, not just treat it.”


Media: Annabel Mansfield: office +61 8 8302 0351 | mobile: +61 417 717 504 email: [email protected]
Researcher: Kristy Gray, APD, Online Course Facilitator University of South Australia office +61 8302 7418 | email: [email protected]



Facts about diabetes

  • Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer:
    • Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes and is increasing
    • Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and is increasing
    • Gestational diabetes in pregnancy is increasing
  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes
  • Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000).
  • More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year
  • Total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia estimated at $14.6 billion.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia.
  • There are more than 4,400 amputations every year in Australia as a result of diabetes.
  • People with diabetes are between two and four times more likely to develop heart disease.
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes. It contributes to almost two-thirds of all deaths in people with diabetes.
  • Evidence shows that weight loss and healthy eating prevention programs can prevent type 2 diabetes in up to 58 per cent of cases.

Journal Link: 1376 Nutrition Education and Behavioral Science