Dietary behaviour of pregnant versus non-pregnant women

Appetite. 2007 Jan;48(1):78-86. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2006.07.078. Epub 2006 Sep 26.


This study investigates dietary behaviour and the perceived role of food for health of pregnant versus non-pregnant women. Data were collected between 15 January 2003 and 15 March 2003 in Belgium. One hundred and forty-eight pregnant and 130 non-pregnant women aged between 20 and 40 years completed a self-administered questionnaire about their dietary behaviour and nutritional attitudes. Both sub-samples match with respect to individual factors such as relevant socio-demographics and general food perceptions. Pregnant women report higher consumption of fruits, which results in a better score for fibre intake. They also report higher consumption of beef and dairy products, as well as a higher fat intake. No difference in fish consumption between pregnant and non-pregnant women is observed. In line with recommendations, pregnant women report reduced consumption of food products with heightened safety-related risks, lower use of alcohol and tobacco, and safer food handling practices. Reduced intake of raw vegetables for food safety reasons is not compensated by higher intake of cooked vegetables. Pregnant women also report a lower frequency of moderate physical activity. Most differences in food choice by pregnant versus non-pregnant women pertain to the avoidance of specific, potentially harmful food groups. A substantial share of pregnant women does not follow upon recommendations with respect to alcohol use and exposure to tobacco. Personal medical sources for pregnant women and personal social sources for non-pregnant women are reported as the most attended sources of diet-related information. The perceived role of food for health is not different between pregnant and non-pregnant women, and there were no significant interaction effects between pregnancy and presence of children, which indicates that the observed differences in dietary behaviour can be attributed to the state of being pregnant.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Diet / standards
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber