Gestational diabetes risk factors among Canadian women: BMI, glucose level, physical activity and sedentary behavior
Introduction: Prevalence of gestational diabetes in Canada has increased in recent years. Past research shows that pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) over 25 kg/m2 and high glucose levels are major risk factors for gestational diabetes. Physical activity and sedentary behavior might contribute to gestational diabetes risk through their relationships with these factors. Our objective was to analyze the prevalence of these four major risk factors among women of reproductive age (18-49 years) in Canada.
Methods: We analyzed BMI, glucose level, achievement of recommended physical activity levels, and levels of sedentary behavior in a sample representative of more than 7 million women in the Canadian Health Measures Survey for cycle 3 (2012-2013), 4 (2013-2014) and 5 (2014-2015). Height, weight, and glucose levels were assessed at mobile clinics. Physical activity and sedentary behavior were assessed with a physical activity monitor worn by participants for one week. We used descriptive methods to analyze the prevalence of each risk factor individually, and the prevalence of multiple risk factors among Canadian women of reproductive age.
Results: We observed that 51.9% of Canadian women of reproductive age had BMI over 25 and 8.9% had glucose levels suggestive of prediabetes (>5.6 mmol\L). We also observed that 31.1% of the sample spent at least 10 hours per day sitting and 81.7% did not respect recommendations on physical activity. Overall, 35.4% of the sample had one risk factor, 37.3% had two risk factors, and 19.1% had three risk factors or more.
Conclusion: Despite recommendations to reduce sedentary behavior and increase physical activity, these behaviors remain prevalent among Canadian women of reproductive age. These might contribute to elevated BMI and glucose levels, and thereby to increased risk of gestational diabetes. Results might guide the development of interventions targeting health behaviors among this population.