Fat surrounding the organs poses a greater risk to pregnant mothers and their unborn children than fat at the extremities of the body, according to new research from the University of Sydney.
The study, published in the journal Obstetric Medicine, found the risk of developing complications, such as hypertension or diabetes in pregnancy or the need for a caesarean section, increases with the level of obesity but that not all obese women are equally likely to develop these sorts of complications. “‘What we found is that how the fat is distributed in the body is a significant factor when judging weight-related health risk,” Sydney Medical School Nepean’s Professor Ralph Nanan said. “In this context, fat around the inner organs, referred to as visceral fat, is more dangerous than peripheral fat, the fat around our extremities. A second study led by Professor Nanan, who is also the lead author of two studies outlining the findings, used ultrasound to measure abdominal fat thickness, also known as subcutaneous fat. “We found that these simple, safe and inexpensive measurement gave us a much better predictor of obesity-related pregnancy outcomes than routinely used measures such as the body mass index,” Professor Nanan said.