Mothers who eat for two during their pregnancy could be left fighting extra weight for the rest of their life, researchers from Bristol University have discovered.

They found that women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are at higher risk of obesity and health problems, such as high blood pressure.

The findings support growing evidence around the risks associated with being overweight during pregnancy. Although weight gain during pregnancy is natural, excessive weight gain can put baby and mother at risk.

Dr Abigail Fraser, who led the study, said women should avoid overeating, particularly in the first six months of pregnancy, when the extra weight constituted fat, rather than baby growth. 

She also called for more regular checks on pregnant women as a way to prevent potential health problems in later life.

"Our findings suggest that regular monitoring of weight in pregnancy may need to be reconsidered because it provides a window of opportunity to prevent health problems later in life," she said.

The findings echo those made in a similar study published in the US journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, which warned women with a BMI of 30 or more to lose weight before becoming pregnant.