Racial or Ethnic and Socioeconomic Inequalities in Adherence to National Dietary Guidance in a Large Cohort of US Pregnant Women

Lisa M. Bodnar, Hyagriv N. Simhan, Corette B. Parker, Heather Meier, Brian M. Mercer, William A. Grobman, David M. Haas, Deborah A. Wing, Matthew K. Hoffman, Samuel Parry, Robert M. Silver, George R. Saade, Ronald Wapner, Jay D. Iams, Pathik D. Wadhwa, Michal Elovitz, Alan M. Peaceman, Sean Esplin, Shannon Barnes, Uma M. Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background The significance of periconceptional nutrition for optimizing offspring and maternal health and reducing social inequalities warrants greater understanding of diet quality among US women. Objective Our objective was to evaluate racial or ethnic and education inequalities in periconceptional diet quality and sources of energy and micronutrients. Design Cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-Be cohort. Participants and setting Nulliparous women (N=7,511) were enrolled across eight US medical centers from 2010 to 2013. Main outcome measures A semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire assessing usual dietary intake during the 3 months around conception was self-administered during the first trimester. Diet quality, measured using the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), and sources of energy and micronutrients were the outcomes. Statistical analyses Differences in diet quality were tested across maternal racial or ethnic and education groups using F tests associated with analysis of variance and χ2 tests. Results HEI-2010 score increased with higher education, but the increase among non-Hispanic black women was smaller than among non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics (interaction P value <0.0001). For all groups, average scores for HEI-2010 components were below recommendations. Top sources of energy were sugar-sweetened beverages, pasta dishes, and grain desserts, but sources varied by race or ethnicity and education. Approximately 34% of energy consumed was from empty calories (the sum of energy from added sugars, solid fats, and alcohol beyond moderate levels). The primary sources of iron, folate, and vitamin C were juices and enriched breads. Conclusions Diet quality is suboptimal around conception, particularly among women who are non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, or who had less than a college degree. Diet quality could be improved by substituting intakes of refined grains and foods empty in calories with vegetables, peas and beans (legumes), seafood, and whole grains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-877.e3
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Diet
  • Dietary guidance
  • Healthy Eating Index
  • Preconception
  • Pregnancy inequalities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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