Past research on maternal weight gain during pregnancy has focused on determinants and consequences of inadequate weight gain with concerns for the health of the infant. However, with the rising prevalence of obesity among women of childbearing ages and the high proportion of women who are gaining in excess of recommendations, a shift in research focus must occur to include consideration of the mother's long-term health status. The few studies that have examined determinants of excessive weight gain and postpartum weight retention in this country were not comprehensive in assessing diet, physical activity and psychosocial factors and suffer from small sample sizes. Information is lacking concerning pregnant women's perceptions about eating and gaining weight, what they actually eat, how consumption and exercise relate to weight gain, and how psychosocial factors influence these behaviors during pregnancy. Likewise, little is known concerning these same attitudes and behaviors during the postpartum period that may contribute to weight retention

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