Fried Foods Before Pregnancy Tied to Gestational Diabetes

Fried foods from outside the home more highly associated with risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Fried food has long been tied to heart disease and high cholesterol. Now, women thinking about having a baby may have one more reason to avoid foods fried in oil or fat.

A new study found that frequently eating fried foods before pregnancy was tied to higher rates of gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. This association was stronger in women who ate a lot of fatty fried foods from outside the home.

The study was written by Cuilin Zhang, MD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues.

The study authors found that women who ate fried foods seven or more times a week were more than twice as likely as women who ate fried food less than once a week to have gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can lead to problems for both the baby and mother. Women with gestational diabetes are at risk for high blood pressure. They are also more likely to develop diabetes later in life, past research suggested. Babies born to mothers who have gestational diabetes may be unusually large at birth, may be born early or may have other health issues like troubled breathing.

This study included 15,027 women from the Nurse’s Health Study II. There were 21,079 pregnancies among these women.

In 10 years of follow-up, 47 of the pregnant women were found to have gestational diabetes.

In 1991, and then every four years, the women were asked to complete surveys about their lives. These surveys asked whether the women smoked or took medication. The women also answered questions about how often they ate fried foods, and whether they made the food or bought it outside the home.

Answers ranged from eating fried food less than once a week to seven or more times a week. The women did not describe the amount or type of fried food they ate.

Results showed that the more times each week a woman reported eating fried foods, the greater her risk was for gestational diabetes.

The study authors then looked at body mass index (BMI) — a height- and weight-based measure of body fat. When BMI was factored in, women who ate fried foods seven or more times a week had an 88 percent increased risk for gestational diabetes, compared to women who ate fried food less than once a week.

Women who ate fried food prepared outside the home had a greater risk for gestational diabetes than women who ate fried food prepared at home.

The authors wrote that fats used in restaurants are often used several times and are less healthy than fats used at home.

“The connection between fried food and diabetes has to do with the increased rate of obesity in women who consume large amounts of fried food," said Dr. Andre F. Hall, an OB-GYN at Birth and Women's Care in Fayetteville, NC, in an interview with dailyRx News. "This appears to be greater away from home, and I believe this relates to the increased fat found in fast food products as compared to what is generally prepared at home."

The study authors noted that “the potential detrimental effects of fried food consumption on GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus) risk may result from the modification of foods and frying medium and generation of harmful by-products during the frying process.”

The authors said they hope women who learn of their study will eat less fried food.

“Our study indicates potential benefits of limiting fried food consumption in the prevention of GDM in women of reproductive age,” they wrote.

Further studies are needed to confirm and expand upon the findings, they added.

This study was published Oct. 8 in Diabetologia.

This study was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 7, 2014
Last Updated:
October 10, 2014