Do pregnant women eat healthier than non-pregnant women of childbearing age?

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Sep;71(6):757-768. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2020.1723499. Epub 2020 Feb 5.


We aimed to compare the dietary quality and intake of pregnant women, women planning to conceive and women of childbearing age. Fifty-five pregnant women were matched for age and pre-pregnancy body mass index with 55 women planning to conceive and 55 women of childbearing age. Three Web-based 24-h recalls were completed, from which the Canadian Healthy Eating Index was calculated. Pregnant women had greater overall diet quality scores (66.8 ± 10.7, 60.3 ± 14.1 and 61.4 ± 12.8, in pregnant vs. planning to conceive and childbearing age women, p = .009), explained by a higher intake in fruits, vegetables and grain products and lower intake of foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt. Energy intake was significantly higher in pregnant versus planning to conceive women only (2283 ± 518 vs. 2062 ± 430 kcal, p = .03). Diet quality was greater among pregnant women, but diet quality scores were low in all groups, indicating that healthier dietary behaviours should be encouraged for all childbearing age women.

Keywords: Pregnancy; diet quality; healthy eating index; preconception; prenatal nutrition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Diet / standards*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Eating
  • Edible Grain
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Vegetables
  • Women*


  • Micronutrients