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The aim of this review is to provide an overview of dietary interventions delivered during pregnancy for the prevention of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). GDM increases the risk of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, and increases future cardio-metabolic risks for both the mother and the offspring. Carrying or gaining excessive weight during pregnancy increases the risk of developing GDM, and several clinical trials in women with overweight or obesity have tested whether interventions aimed at limiting gestational weight gain (GWG), could help prevent GDM. Most dietary interventions have provided general healthy eating guidelines, while some had a specific focus, such as low glycaemic index, increased fibre intake, reducing saturated fat, or a Mediterraneanstyle diet. Although trials have generally been successful in attenuating GWG, the majority have been unable to reduce GDM risk, which suggests that limiting GWG may not be sufficient in itself to prevent GDM. The trials which have shown effectiveness in GDM prevention, have included intensive face-to-face dietetic support, and/or provision of key foods to participants, but it is unclear whether these strategies could be delivered in routine practice. The mechanism behind the effectiveness of some interventions over others remains unclear. Dietary modifications from early stages of pregnancy seem to be key, but the optimum dietary composition is unknown. Future research should focus on designing acceptable and scalable dietary interventions to be tested early in pregnancy in women at risk of GDM.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Publication Date