Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 25–32 | Cite as

Lifestyle and Dietary Habits of an Obese Pregnant Cohort

  • Karen L. Lindsay
  • Clara Heneghan
  • Breige McNulty
  • Lorraine Brennan
  • Fionnuala M. McAuliffe


Obese pregnant women are the focus of numerous dietary and lifestyle intervention studies, however there is a paucity of literature examining the habitual dietary and lifestyle habits of this population. This paper aims to assess maternal dietary and lifestyle habits in an obese cohort, in order to identify priority areas to be addressed in future studies and in clinical practice. This prospective observational study recruited 100 pregnant women with a body mass index 30.0–39.9 kg/m2 from routine antenatal clinics. Dietary intakes were assessed using a 3-day food diary and a structured lifestyle questionnaire assessed physical activity levels, smoking and alcohol habits and wellbeing. Macronutrient intakes as a percentage of total energy were not compliant to healthy eating guidelines with an inadequate intake of carbohydrate and excess intake of saturated fat. Compliance to recommended intakes of calcium, iron, folate and vitamin D was poor from diet alone. The consumption of energy dense food groups high in fat and sugar was greater than for published pregnant populations and the general female non-pregnant population. One-third of women reported engaging in weekly physical activity that would comply with recommendations for pregnant women while 25 % reported low mood status indicating potential depression. High intakes of energy-dense processed foods and poor compliance to micronutrient recommendations are critical dietary issues of concern among obese pregnant women. Low mood is a barrier to motivation for changing behaviour which would also need to be addressed in future lifestyle intervention studies.


Pregnancy Obesity Maternal nutrition Dietary intakes 



The authors would like to thank all participants in the study for their generous contribution of time. This work was funded by the National Maternity Hospital Research Fund.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen L. Lindsay
    • 1
  • Clara Heneghan
    • 2
  • Breige McNulty
    • 3
  • Lorraine Brennan
    • 3
  • Fionnuala M. McAuliffe
    • 1
  1. 1.UCD Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine and Medical ScienceUniversity College Dublin, National Maternity HospitalDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.School of Medicine and Medical Science, Conway InstituteUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Institute of Food and Health, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary MedicineUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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