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Study Warns: Lose That Baby Weight, or Else?

Happy mother with her newborn baby on bed
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's long been a theory that women should aim to lose their baby weight within a year of giving birth to protect themselves from facing possible increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. A new study by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto provides some proof for that theory.

Scientists followed more than 300 women through their pregnancy and the year after giving birth, tracking certain risk factors, according to The Daily Mail.

Three-quarters of the women lost some of their baby weight a year after birth. Those women showed healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, while the women who gained weight the year after birth "showed a clear increase in risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease." Plainly stated, the study illustrated a clear link between women who don't lose their baby weight and increased risks for serious health conditions.

The study's leader, endocrinologist Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, tells the site, "With these results, we can [tell women] that failure to lose weight between three and 12 months postpartum will cause blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin action in the body to move in an unhealthy direction."

While you might say, "Well, these women might have already been at risk," the researchers confirmed that the elevated risk factors hadn't been present in the women at just three months after giving birth. Retnakaran notes. "That means that the nine-month window leading up to one year after birth is a critical time for women to ensure that they are losing at least some of their pregnancy weight."

The study was published in the journal Diabetes Care. Researchers plan to dig deeper with future research to discover how women can more successfully avoid these risk factors in the first year and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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