Falling short of dietary guidelines - What do Australian pregnant women really know? A cross sectional study



Publication Details

Bookari, K., Yeatman, H. & Williamson, M. (2017). Falling short of dietary guidelines - What do Australian pregnant women really know? A cross sectional study. Women and Birth, 30 (1), 9-17.



Maternal diets are not consistent with dietary guidance and this may affect the health of mothers and their infants. Nutrition knowledge and motivation may be important factors.


To assess pregnant women's diets in relation to consistency with the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating (AGHE); factors influencing women's adherence to the recommendations; and women's attitudes towards pregnancy-specific nutrition information.


A cross-sectional study using convenience sampling was undertaken at five hospitals in New South Wales (Australia) and through an online link (October 2012 to July 2013). N = 388 pregnant women completed the survey. Categorical data were analysed using Chi square and logistic regression with significance set at P < 0.05.


Most participants were highly motivated to adopt a healthy diet, believed they were trying to do so and that knowing about nutrition in pregnancy was highly important. Reported dietary intakes were poor. No pregnant women met the recommended intakes for all five food groups. Poor knowledge of these recommendations was evident. Knowledge of selected recommendations (for Fruit, Vegetables, and Breads and Cereals) increased the likelihood of those foods’ consumption 8 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3–27.7), 9.1 (95% CI, 2.6–31.3) and 6.8 (95% CI, 3.4–13.7) times respectively.


Pregnant women had high levels of motivation and confidence in their ability to achieve a healthy diet and understand dietary recommendations, but actually demonstrated poor knowledge and poor adherence to guidelines. Mistaken or false beliefs may be a barrier to effective nutrition education strategies.

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