Tracking of food choices across the transition to motherhood

  • Olson C
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Objective: This research addresses 2 questions: What are the patterns in selected food choice behaviors across the transition to motherhood? and Do the patterns vary by mothers' social location, particularly parity, family income, and breast-feeding behavior? Design: A prospective cohort study with healthy, adult women followed from midpregnancy until 2 years postpartum. Data were collected through mailed questionnaires for prepregnancy and pregnancy, at 6 months, at 1 and 2 years postpartum, and through an audit of the women's medical records. Setting: A hospital and primary care clinic system serving a 10-county area of rural upstate New York. Participants: 360 women of the 622 in the cohort provided data for all time points. Variables Measured: Three food choice behaviors served as categorical dependent variables at each of the 5 time points: drinking ≥ 2 cups of milk per day consuming ≥ 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and eating breakfast every day. Three social location variables were used as independent variables for the second research question: parity (nulliparous vs primi- and multiparous), family income (low [≤ 185% of federal poverty level] vs higher), and breast-feeding (≥ 1 year vs less). Analysis: McNemar's test was used to compare proportions of women at or above the cutoff value for each food choice behavior across time, and the Fisher exact test was used to compare proportions between groups for each social location variable at each time point. P ≤ .05 was considered significant. Results: The proportion of women drinking 2 or more cups of milk per day at 2 years postpartum was not different from prepregnancy, but the proportions consuming 3 or more fruits and vegetables and eating breakfast every day were significantly higher at 2 years postpartum than prior to pregnancy. The pattern of change varied by categories within the social location variables and differed by food choice behavior. Conclusions and Implications: The transition to motherhood was associated with a positive change in some food choice behaviors. Women making this transition for the first time showed the most consistent positive changes and should be a target audience for nutrition education. ©2005 Society for Nutrition Education.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Behavior
  • Food choice
  • Pregnancy

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  • Christine M. Olson

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