Diabetes Forecast

Prevent Gestational Diabetes with a Healthy Diet and Exercise

What to Know

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. It usually disappears after giving birth. However, GDM increases a woman’s risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. It also increases the baby’s risk of both type 2 diabetes and being overweight. Could lifestyle changes, such as an improved diet and increased exercise, during pregnancy reduce the likelihood of developing GDM?

The Study

Researchers in Finland recruited 269 women who had previously had GDM and/or who were obese before pregnancy. Each of the women was at least halfway through their pregnancy. They were randomly assigned to receive diet, exercise, and weight management counseling or standard prenatal care. Both groups were evaluated for GDM using a standard measure called an oral glucose tolerance test.

The Results

Compared to the women given standard care, the women who received advice regarding diet, exercise, and weight management had fewer cases of GDM. They also put on fewer pounds, ate a healthier diet, and got more exercise.


Simple lifestyle improvements appear to protect against GDM, which means both mother and child will be healthier during pregnancy and later in life. However, it’s important to note that the women in the study were all at high risk of GDM and were mostly white. The results might not apply to other racial groups or to women who are leaner than those in the study.

Gestational diabetes mellitus can be prevented by lifestyle intervention: the Finnish Gestational Diabetes Prevention Study (RADIEL): a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care 2016;39:24–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc15-0511

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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