Pregnant women eating too much meat and dairy

29 June 2016

Most pregnant women are failing to achieve basic nutritional recommendations because they eat too much meat and dairy and not enough fruit, vegetables and cereals, an Australian study has found.

A survey of 388 pregnant women in NSW revealed that although most were confident they were eating well, none met the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating for the 5 major food groups.

Despite being highly motivated to follow a healthy diet in pregnancy, 93% failed to meet recommended intakes for vegetables:

  • 90% failed to meet recommendations for fruit
  • 52% ate too much meat 
  • 30% ate too much dairy

Inadequate nutritional intakes in pregnancy were likely due to women being unaware of dietary recommendations, said the study authors, from the University of Wollongong, NSW.

Only one in 3 women were aware of the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating, despite these being circulated for a decade, they found.

Women may also have been misled about what constitutes a healthy diet in pregnancy due to misleading messages in the media about eating meat to ensure an adequate iron intake, they suggested.

“The combination of overconfidence in women’s (inaccurate) nutrition knowledge, mistaken judgements of diet quality and poor adherence to dietary guidelines during pregnancy, as found in this study, are of concern,” they said.

The study was based on surveys at several hospitals and retail baby stores across NSW between October 2012 and July 2013.

The current recommendations for pregnant women over 20 are 8.5 serves of grain per day, 5 serves of vegetables, 3.5 serves of meat or similar foods, 2.5 serves of dairy, and 2 serves of fruit.

Last Reviewed: 29 June 2016
Reproduced with kind permission from Australian Doctor

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