Maternal Weight

Headlines

  • In 2018/19 around 2,000 women (54%) women in Wakefield District were overweight or obese when they booked their pregnancy.
  • The percentage of women with a healthy weight at the time of booking their pregnancy has decreased in recent years, from around 45% in 2014/15 to 42% (1,600) in 2018/19.
  • Younger women (aged under 20) are more likely to be a healthy weight when they book their pregnancy than women in other age groups (60% compared to the average of 42%).
  •  Older women (aged over 40) are most likely to be overweight or obese when they book their pregnancy (68% compared to 54%)
  • Women from the least deprived areas in Wakefield are more likely to be a healthy weight when they book their pregnancy.
  • Women from the most deprived areas in Wakefield are more likely to be obese when they book their pregnancy.

The population

On average there are around 4,000 births each year in Wakefield; most women are aged between 20 to 30 years when they give birth, birth rates are higher in the more deprived areas in Wakefield. More information about births can be found on the following here.

Maternal weight is an important issue; there are a number of risks associated with weighing too little or too much.  Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to determine what category a pregnant woman’s weight falls into, this is a ratio based on the pregnant woman’s height and weight.  The table shows the weight categories and associated BMI ranges.

Women who are underweight at the start of their pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely and their babies are more likely to be of a low birth weight which is associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, childhood illness and poorer health later in life (JSNA Low Birth Weight page).

Compared to pregnant women with a healthy BMI, pregnant women with an overweight or obese BMI category have an increased risk of ill-health during pregnancy and complications during labour, they are more likely to experience antenatal and postnatal depression and to give birth prematurely. Research also suggests there may be a link between maternal obesity and childhood obesity (JSNA Childhood Obesity page) .

The Challenges

Data on maternal weight is not routinely published in the UK, so it’s difficult to see how Wakefield compares to other areas.   Research published in 2010 estimates around 5% of UK women are underweight, 53% are a healthy weight, 26% are overweight and 16% are obese when they start their pregnancy. Nationally there has been an increase in the proportion of the population who are overweight or obese, if pregnant women are following this trend the estimates stated above are probably lower than what they would be today.

Local intelligence suggests that in 2018/19 around 3% of women in Wakefield were underweight when they booked their pregnancy, lower than the research estimate.  Fewer women were also of a healthy weight, around 42% and more women were overweight (28%) and obese (26%).  Around 1% of women didn’t have a BMI recorded when they booked their pregnancy.  These figures are for women who live in Wakefield District or are registered with a Wakefield District GP and booked their pregnancy with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Source: MYHT maternity system

The inequality

There are inequalities in maternal weight, older women from deprived areas are more likely to be overweight or obese at the time they book their pregnancy.  Younger women and those living in the least deprived areas are more likely to be a healthy weight when they book their pregnancy.

The following dashboards show the inequalities in maternal weight; the filters on the right let you select different criteria that will update the charts with the relevant information.

Inequalities by age

Younger women are more likely to be a healthy weight when they book their pregnancy, the age group with the highest proportion of a healthy weight is women aged under 20 years.  The proportion of women who are overweight or obese at the time of booking increases with age.

Source: MYHT maternity system

Inequalities by area

Women living in the least deprived areas are more likely to be a healthy weight when they book their pregnancy; women living in the most deprived areas are more likely to be obese.

Source: MYHT maternity system

Source: MYHT maternity system

Service Provision

Aspire Health Referral is a service available to people living in Wakefield District who want to lose weight or be more active.  They work with individuals to make changes and develop a programme based on their individual needs and circumstances.  Wakefield residents can self-refer via the self-refer portal, click here to find out more.

Health professionals who have a patient who wants to lose weight or be more active can contact the Aspire Health Referral Team on 01924 306 765, 01924 307 811 or aspirereferral@wakefield.gov.uk and they will be guided through the referral process.

There are a number of self-help resources people can access:

Information and Publications