Adherence to the Australian dietary guidelines during pregnancy: evidence from a national study

Public Health Nutr. 2016 May;19(7):1155-63. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015002232. Epub 2015 Jul 31.


Objective: To assess dietary intake of pregnant women against the Australian Dietary Guidelines with respect to the Five Food Group recommendations and determine predictors of adherence to the recommendations.

Design: Cross-sectional web-based survey. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Setting: Pregnant women living in Australia. A national sample was recruited using an online panel provider and a South Australian sample was recruited through the antenatal clinic of a large public maternity hospital.

Subjects: A total of 857 pregnant women.

Results: Fifty-six per cent, 29% and less than 10% of women met the recommendations for the fruit, dairy and other core food groups, respectively. None of the women met the recommendations for all Five Food Groups. Women who were born overseas and who were less physically active pre-pregnancy were less likely to adhere to the fruit and dairy recommendations. Women who smoked during pregnancy, were overweight pre-pregnancy and had lower household incomes were also less likely to meet the fruit recommendations; and women living in metropolitan areas were less likely to meet the vegetable recommendations. Sixty-one per cent believed their diet during this pregnancy was healthy.

Conclusions: The majority of pregnant women in Australia perceive their diets to be healthy yet they do not consume the recommended daily servings from the Five Food Groups. Intervention strategies are warranted, particularly those that increase women's ability to evaluate their diet and also encourage positive dietary changes. These strategies may increase adoption of dietary guidelines and optimise pregnancy and other long-term health outcomes.

Keywords: Australia; Diet change; Dietary guidelines; Food group recommendations; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Overweight
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vegetables
  • Young Adult