Mediterranean diet and gestational weight gain

Maternal nutrition plays a key role in all stages of gestation, from conception to delivery. According to the “Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System”, 47% of women gain excessive weight during pregnancy, which has a negative impact on maternal, perinatal, and fetal health, with increased risk of cesarean section, high birth weight, adiposity and alterations in the glycemic metabolism.
A recent retrospective study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health investigated the effect of the Mediterranean Diet on weight gain during pregnancy. Data were collected from a cohort of 503 women who completed a validated food frequency questionnaire immediately after giving birth. Analysis of the data showed that, at the end of pregnancy, women with typical Mediterranean dietary habits had lower risk of gaining excess weight than those following a typical Western diet. In addition, greater adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was also associated with better nutritional quality, with adequate intakes of calcium, vitamin B9, vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine and dietary fiber.


In conclusion, pregnancy can be considered a window of opportunity for promoting healthy habits, as women are more willing to adopt healthier dietary habits during this time. Counselling and promoting the Mediterranean diet during antenatal visits could offer a sustainable and practical strategy to control gestational weight gain and ensure adequate nutrient intake during this critical fetal developmental period. Moreover, it could also be an important public health measure with implications that might span over a woman’s life course.

Source: Cano-Ibánez et al., Maternal Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy and their Association with Gestational Weight Gain and nutrient Adequacy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2020, 17, 7908; doi:10.3390/ijerph17217908