So when a woman is told by her Doctor that she is pregnant there is usually a discussion about eating the right foods, nutrition and not eating other foods (eg.no shellfish or soft cheeses).
According to a recent study published online in the journal Public Health Nutrition in July 2015, two thirds of pregnant women believe they eat the right diet. However the study found that none in the study actually followed the Australian Dietary Guidelines on the eating of the five food groups.
The study surveyed at least 850 pregnant women from across the country. It was done for her PhD by Dr Lenka Malek, of the University of Adelaide’s Women’s & Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI). The School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and Global Food Studies was also involved in the study.
The following results were found;
- 56% of pregnant women consumed the daily recommendation of fruit
- 29% consumed enough dairy
- less than 10% ate the recommended levels of other food groups: vegetables, grains and lean meats.
Dr Malek said; “The results are rather alarming – we were expecting to see at least some pregnant women correctly following the guidelines across all food groups, but there were none. One of our main concerns is that 61% of pregnant women thought they were eating a healthy and balanced diet.”
If women think they are following good dietary practices and we find that they actually aren’t, this is a major cause of concern.
Dr Malek said; “If pregnant women already believe they are consuming a healthy and balanced diet they may not make changes to improve their eating habits. These results help to illustrate the need for greater awareness of what is considered to be a healthy diet, and a need for intervention programs aimed at helping pregnant women to meet the guidelines.”
Interestingly some groups are less likely to eat certain foods.
As Dr Jo Zhou, Senior author on the paper and a dietician from the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and WCHRI at the University, said; “For example, women who were born overseas and who were less physically active before pregnancy were less likely to keep to the daily fruit and dairy recommendations. Women who smoked during pregnancy, were overweight before pregnancy and had lower household incomes were also less likely to eat enough fruit. And women living in metropolitan areas were less likely to meet the daily intake of vegetables. More research would be needed to better understand exactly why women aren’t consuming certain types of foods at the recommended levels. But there is a very clear need to raise awareness of this problem in the community.”