Reduction of food intake during pregnancy in rural South India

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A common custom in developing countries is reduction of food intake during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. In the research area in South India, women mentioned that they reduce food intake late in pregnancy. This paper explores whether the reported reduction could be confirmed by quantitative data on food intake; by how much intake was reduced; and whether all women ate less. A group of 186 women in a rural area of Karnataka were followed throughout pregnancy. Most did not achieve the daily food intake recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), not even that of non-pregnant women. Their average daily energy intake during pregnancy was 1700 kcal. A trend of declining daily energy intake within subjects over the whole period of pregnancy was observed, the biggest change taking place between month 5/6/7 and month 8/9. The major determinant of change in energy intake turned out to be prepregnancy nutritional status, i.e. chronic energy deficiency (CED), measured by body mass index (BMI). Results indicate that women who were better nourished before they became pregnant were more likely to reduce energy intake during pregnancy.

Keywords: India; body mass index; food intake; pregnancy

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Population Research Centre, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 1996

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