Perceived weight gain, risk, and nutrition in pregnancy in five racial groups

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2012 Jan;24(1):32-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2011.00678.x.


Objective: Examine perceived pregnancy weight gain needed, perceived risks to mother, and infant of excessive weight and underweight, perceptions of actual, ideal, realistic body size, nutritional intake in five racial/ethnic groups.

Design: Cross-sectional Setting: Physicians' offices Participants: A total of 54 women <20 weeks gestation.

Methods: Questionnaires-perceived weight gain needed, risks of weight gain for mother, infant, perceptions of body size, food frequency.

Results: A total of 39% of women are overweight or obese (57% Caribbean Black, 50% African American). Perceived pregnancy weight gain needed highest in Central American Hispanic women, lowest Caribbean Black women. African-American women had low perceived risk for mother and infant of gaining too much pregnancy weight, highest perceived risk for both of gaining too little. Caribbean Black women perceived highest risk to mother of gaining too much pregnancy weight, highest risk to infant of gaining too little. White Non-Hispanic women reported smaller prepregnant, ideal, realistic body sizes than other four groups. Daily caloric intake ranged from 599 to 5856 calories. African-American women had significantly more calories; protein, total fats, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats; carbohydrates, sugar; and iron than White Non-Hispanic women. Women in each racial/ethnic group had less than recommended intake of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, folate, and fiber.

Conclusions: Education is needed to raise awareness of risks of prepregnancy weight and excessive weight gain for mother and infant. The need for prenatal nutritional counseling to reduce the intake of calories, fats, sweets, and snacks; increase intake of vegetables, fruits, foods with iron, folate, and fiber.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Racial Groups*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain*