Weight gain attitudes among pregnant adolescents.J Adolesc Health 1993; 14(5):369-72JA
Maternal weight gain is the most important, manageable determinant of infant birth weight among adolescents. Negative attitudes toward weight gain may adversely affect maternal weight gain. We hypothesized that (a) negative attitudes toward pregnancy weight gain are more common among younger pregnant adolescents, and (b) negative attitudes toward pregnancy weight gain adversely affect adolescent maternal weight gain. The study subjects, 99, radially diverse, pregnant 13 through 18 year olds, completed the 18-item, Likert-format, Pregnancy and Weight Gain Attitude Scale. Responses to the questionnaire indicated that most (83.8%) of the adolescents we interviewed had a positive attitude toward pregnancy weight gain when they entered prenatal care. Univariate analyses revealed that attitudes toward weight gain were unrelated to the respondents' ages but inversely related to their prepregnant weights (-0.16; p = 0.06) and the severity of their symptoms of depression (r = -0.26; p = 0.004). Attitudes toward weight gain were also directly related to their family support (r = 0.17; p = 0.06). Weight gain was significantly related to 4 of the 18 scale items but not to the total attitude scale score. We conclude that (a) the developmental task of formulating a positive body image does not foster more negative attitudes toward pregnancy weight gain among younger adolescents; (b) negative weight gain attitudes are most common among heavier adolescents, depressed adolescents, and adolescents who do not perceive their families as supportive; and (c) negative weight gain attitudes could adversely affect pregnancy weight gain.