Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 127–136 | Cite as

Assessing Diet Quality in a Population of Low-Income Pregnant Women: A Comparison Between Native Americans and Whites

  • Vanessa Watts
  • Helaine Rockett
  • Heather Baer
  • Jill Leppert
  • Graham Colditz
Original Paper


Objective: To assess diet quality of pregnant women in the WIC program in North Dakota and to compare Native Americans with whites, we used a DQI-P (diet quality index for pregnancy) among low-income pregnant women enrolled in WIC, a special supplemental program for women, infants, and children. Methods: Dietary information was collected for all participants using the Harvard Service Food Frequency Questionnaire (HSFFQ). DQI-P scores were based on 10 components previously used in other diet quality indices: percent recommended intake of grains, vegetables, fruits, folate, calcium, and iron; total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and dietary diversity. Each component contributed 10 points to the total possible DQI-P score of 100. Results: The mean DQI-P score was 53.9. Native Americans (51.8) had significantly lower DQI-P scores (51.8 vs. 54.2; p<0.0001); significantly higher scores for iron and folate; and significantly lower scores for cholesterol, total fat intake, and saturated fat components than did whites. As DQI-P scores increased, diet improved and scores for individual components increased. Conclusion: While there were significant differences between the diet quality of Native American and white pregnant women, the differences were minimal. The DQI-P scores for all women in this population indicate that their diets are not meeting dietary recommendations. Interventions should focus on decreasing fat intake and increasing iron and folate intake to meet national dietary recommendations. More emphasis should be placed on eating whole fruit and vegetables.


Pregnancy Diet Nutrition Diet assessment Diet quality American Indians 



This study was supported by grant # RO1 HD 33763 from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Colditz is also supported by the American Cancer Society Cissy Hornung Clinical Research Professorship. The authors gratefully acknowledge the North Dakota WIC clients who participated in this study and the dietitians who collected the data. The authors would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Robin EB Flaig, at the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as the contributions of Jill Leppert, of the North Dakota WIC Program, Division of Maternal and Child Health, for her active collaboration in the preparation of this manuscript. Unfortunately, prior to the completion of the manuscript, Jill Leppert passed away.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanessa Watts
    • 1
  • Helaine Rockett
    • 2
  • Heather Baer
    • 2
  • Jill Leppert
  • Graham Colditz
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Society, Human Development, and HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Channing LaboratoryBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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