Do the Dietary Intakes of Pregnant Women Attending Public Hospital Antenatal Clinics Align with Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Recommendations?

Nutrients. 2020 Aug 13;12(8):2438. doi: 10.3390/nu12082438.


The maternal diet influences the long-term health status of both mother and offspring. The current study aimed to compare dietary intakes of pregnant women compared to food and nutrient recommendations in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs). Usual dietary intake was assessed in a sample of women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy attending antenatal outpatient clinics at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW). Dietary intake was measured using the Australian Eating Survey, a validated, semi-quantitative 120-item food frequency questionnaire. Daily food group servings and nutrient intakes were compared to AGHE and NRV targets. Of 534 women participating, none met the AGHE recommendations for all food groups. Highest adherence was for fruit serves (38%), and lowest for breads and cereals (0.6%). Only four women met the pregnancy NRVs for folate, iron, calcium, zinc and fibre from food alone. Current dietary intakes of Australian women during pregnancy do not align with national nutrition guidelines. This highlights the importance of routine vitamin and mineral supplementation during pregnancy, as intakes from diet alone may commonly be inadequate. Future revisions of dietary guidelines and pregnancy nutrition recommendations should consider current dietary patterns. Pregnant women currently need more support to optimise food and nutrient intakes.

Keywords: dietary guidelines; dietary intake; food-based guidelines; nutrition; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Healthy / standards
  • Diet, Healthy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Public / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / analysis
  • New South Wales
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*


  • Micronutrients