Dietary behaviour, food and nutrient intake of women do not change during pregnancy in Southern Ethiopia

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Although pregnant women are required to increase food and nutrient intake to accommodate for the increased nutritional demands, information on dietary behaviour and nutrient intake is limited. This study aimed to identify the adequacy and differences in intake between pregnant and non-pregnant women in a rural community of Butajira district, Southern Ethiopia. Simple random sampling was used to recruit 159 pregnant and 164 non-pregnant women. An interactive multiple pass 24-h recall survey was used to evaluate the food and nutrient intake of the study participants. Except for iron, vitamin A and C, intakes of macro and micronutrient were below the recommendations. Almost all study participants were deficient in energy, protein, calcium, folate and niacin intakes. There was no significant difference in the mean dietary intake of all nutrients between pregnant and non-pregnant women (p > 0.05). The prevalence of inadequacy was comparable between pregnant and non-pregnant women in all of the nutrient intakes except for Zn, where the prevalence of inadequacy was much higher among the pregnant women. Nearly all (99.0%) of the pregnant women were deficient in niacin, folate and calcium. Although all pregnant women considered it important to increase food intake during pregnancy, only a quarter of women reported to do so. In conclusion, pregnant women in the rural community of Butajira district do not make significant dietary intake adjustments to account for increased nutrient needs during pregnancy. In food insecure areas, such as ours, nutritional counselling complemented with supplementary feeding programmes could be key to ensure adequate dietary intake. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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