Physical Activity, but Not Glycaemic Load, Is Associated with Lower Real-Time Glycaemic Control in Free-Living Women with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Publication Name



Maintaining blood glucose within the target range is the primary treatment goal for women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Foods with low glycaemic loads are recommended in clinical practice; however, the relative importance of other key lifestyle variables is unexplored. This pilot study explored the associations of glycaemic load, carbohydrates and physical activity parameters on blood glucose concentrations in free-living women with GDM. Twenty-nine women (28–30 weeks gestation, 34 ± 4 years) with GDM were enrolled. Continuous glucose monitoring, physical activity (ActivPAL inclinometer) and dietary intake and dietary quality were measured concurrently for 3 days. Pearson correlation analyses determined the association between glucose levels and lifestyle variables. Despite all receiving the same nutrition education, only 55% of women were following a low glycaemic load diet with a large range of carbohydrate intakes (97–267 g/day). However, the glycaemic load did not correlate with 3-hr postprandial glucose (r2 = 0.021, p = 0.56) or 24-h glucose iAUC (r2 = 0.021, p = 0.58). A significant relationship between total stepping time and lower 24-h glucose iAUC (r2 = 0.308, p = 0.02) and nocturnal glucose (r2 = 0.224, p = 0.05) was found. In free-living women with diet-controlled GDM, more physical activity, i.e., steps accumulated across the day, may be a simple and effective strategy for improving maternal blood glucose concentrations.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health



Link to publisher version (DOI)