Kim Vesco, Kaiser Permanente Physician and Women’s Health Researcher


I’m Kim Vesco, and I study obesity and women’s
health issues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. Growing up my mom always told me you’re
going to be a scientist, you’re gonna be a researcher. I think maybe she just thought I was inquisitive
and liked answering questions and figuring things out, and I liked doing puzzles even
as a child. How has your clinical practice influenced
your research? One of the things I realized as a provider
is that I wasn’t doing a very good job in helping my patients with healthy lifestyle
changes during pregnancy, and would have my patients get to the end of their pregnancy
and realized, oh my gosh, I didn’t help her avoid excessive weight gain or, I wish
I could have given her more information about physical activity and realizing that there
was a lot more that I could do to help my patients have healthier weight gain and healthier
pregnancies. What is the risk of gaining too much weight
during pregnancy? Studies suggest that gaining too much weight
during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk for pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia,
which is high blood pressure and other complications associated during pregnancy and that can affect
both the mom and her baby. Excessive weight gain has also been associated
with increased risk for big babies, and big babies actually can be harder to deliver normally
and can increase the risk for C-section and also birth injury for the mom and her baby. How do you prevent excessive weight gain in
pregnant women? We designed a program called Healthy Moms,
and this was a weight management program for women who are obese at the beginning of their
pregnancy. More women met weekly in group meetings to
work on lifestyle changes, goal setting, doing things that could help them have healthier
weight gain. And our goal was almost no weight gain during
pregnancy for these women, and they were very successful and very happy with the changes
that they made. Being a mom and a researcher makes me appreciate
the struggles that our patients have, they’re busy young women with families and careers
and trying to incorporate the principles that we all want to follow as far as healthy diet
and activity. It’s challenging. What would people be surprised to learn about
you? I think my colleagues and probably the public
would be surprised to know that I grew up riding motorcycles and snowmobiles in a small
town doesn’t seem to be something, the first thing you would think of when you see
me is wow, she used to ride a dirt bike in the desert when she was five years old.

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