Background: Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have greatly increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Inappropriate perceptions about healthy weight range or diabetes risk may result in lower engagement in risk-modifying behaviours such as weight-loss. AIM: To compare weight perception and diabetes risk-perception shortly after a GDM pregnancy against calculated measures of BMI and diabetes risk, examining how these influence active intentions to lose weight.
Methods: GDM-clinic attendees were recruited to a longitudinal postpartum follow-up study. At 10-12 weeks postpartum, anthropometric measurements and demographic, lifestyle, risk perception and attitude questionnaires were performed. Women estimated their weight category, and self-perceived future risk of diabetes. The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (AUSDRISK)(1) was used to calculate diabetes risk. BMI was categorised using 2004 WHO advice for ‘increased-risk’ and ‘high-risk’, according to ethnicity.
Results: 98 women participated; mean age 32±4.9 yrs. Using ethnic-specific BMI cut-offs, 33.7% were overweight and 50% obese. Of 95 women reporting self-perceived weight, 47% of overweight women rated themselves ‘healthy-weight’. 55% of obese women labelled themselves healthy or overweight. 21% of women who perceived themselves in healthy weight range were actively trying to lose weight vs 54% perceived as overweight and 57% perceived as obese. Among 79 overweight/obese women, those perceiving their weight classification as overweight/obese were more likely to be actively trying to lose weight (55%) compared to those who believed they were healthy (29%). 97 AUSDRISK scores were calculated. 9 women had ‘intermediate-risk’ AUSDRISK scores but 5/9 perceived their diabetes risk as none/slight. 41% of 88 women with ‘high-risk’ AUSDRISK scores ranked their risk as moderate, and 32% as none/slight.
Conclusion: Significant numbers of women underestimate their weight category and future diabetes risk. Women who erroneously perceived themselves as ‘healthy-weight’ were less likely to be actively pursuing weight-loss and may benefit from further education postpartum.