Frustrated that you’re gaining weight instead of losing it? Many factors could trigger weight gain. Health365 investigates.


Pregnancy is one of the times in a woman’s life when she’s vulnerable to weight gain. And, yes, some weight must be gained to ensure a healthy birth weight for your baby.

Women need to gain the following amounts of weight over the nine months of pregnancy to achieve a favourable outcome:

    • Normal weight and BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 at start of pregnancy: 11.4 to 16kg

    • Underweight and BMI of less than 18.5 at start of pregnancy:  13 to 18kg

    • Overweight and BMI of 25 to 29.9 at start of pregnancy: 7 to 11.4kg

Many factors can contribute to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and an inability to lose weight after giving birth. These include the belief that it’s necessary to "eat for two" during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The energy requirements of pregnant women only increase by about 1,300kJ per day as of the second trimester (4th month and after).

Breastfeeding mothers can increase their energy intake by another 840kJ per day.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should simply strive to improve the quality of their diet, instead of the quantity of food they eat.

Low birth weight

Ironically, children who are born with a low birth weight tend to be more vulnerable to gaining weight and developing a range of degenerative diseases in adulthood.

It’s also the reason why it’s important for mothers to gain sufficient (but not excessive) weight during pregnancy and why they should breastfeed for as long as possible.

Women who are undernourished during pregnancy give birth to low-birth-weight babies, who will tend to gain weight as they grown up. These children are often obese by the time they reach their teenage years.

Lack of exercise

A lack of exercise tends to trigger weight gain – no matter the life stage.

Children and teenagers should be as active as possible to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity, which generally worsens in adulthood.

Adults should try to regain their physicality. The modern world is designed to save us time and energy, which can lead to obesity. Ironically, we need to think of schemes to increase our physical activity to counteract the "benefits" of modern engineering and technology.

Here are a few tips to get more exercise during the day:

    • Climb the steps instead of using lifts and escalators.

    • Walk to the shops or to work.

    • Take up a sport such as cycling or swimming. It’s not necessary to join an expensive gym unless you really benefit from the support given by a trainer.

    •  Do your own workouts in front of the TV, or buy a skipping rope to skip whenever you get a chance.

    • Take the whole family and the dog along for company. Getting exercise will set an example for your children, instilling a good habit for the rest of their lives.

Changes in routines, environment and habits

A drastic change to your routine, such as working night shifts, going to university or college, moving to a new job, changing town or country or quitting smoking, can lead to weight gain.

Plan ahead and work out strategies to counteract weight gain: for instance, make sure you’ve got healthy snacks in your drawer at your new office or talk to your doctor about how to counteract weight gain if you’re trying to quit smoking.

Marriage and weight gain

Many women complain that they started piling on the kilos when they got married. The problem is that men and women are so very different. Potential weight-gain factors include:

    • Different energy needs. Men have a higher basic metabolic rate, which generally permits them to ingest more calories. They also use up more energy when they exercise because they have a higher percentage of muscle tissue.

    • Different tastes. For instance, you love sushi and salads; he loves bread and meat – and now you cater to both (which could mean that you’re eating more energy-dense bread and meat than before).

    • A different level of physical activity. You run 10km a day; he plays the occasional game of touch rugby with the boys.

    • Different psychological make-up. Women have a higher incidence of depression, which may lead to increased body weight; men, on the other hand, tend to be restless and constantly on the go.

    • Pharmacological intake. Many women use hormonal contraception or fertility treatments to fall pregnant. Both of these can cause weight gain.

    • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Both these phases are fraught with the potential to gain weight.