THE common belief that pregnant women can eat for two has been scotched by research suggesting dieting during pregnancy can help.
Experts found that weight management was not only safe but could also reduce complications for pregnant women and be advantageous to the baby.
The risk of pre-eclampsia -- which causes high blood pressure, diabetes and premature birth can all be reduced if the mother-to-be sticks to a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, the study published on bmj.com found.
In contrast, excessive weight gain was linked to serious health problems.
Across Europe and the US, up to 40pc of women gain more than the recommended weight.
But researchers from Queen Mary, University of London found weight management interventions in pregnancy were effective in reducing weight gain in the mother.
Diet also offered the most benefit in preventing pregnancy complications.
The researchers concluded: "Dietary intervention is effective, safe and potentially cost-effective and dominates physical activity-based intervention."
They analysed the results of 44 randomised controlled trials involving more than 7,000 women.