Objective: To evaluate dietary quality in a sample of pregnant women based on one simple and objective parameter.
Methods: Pregnant women (n = 712), between 16 and 36 weeks, attending primary care clinics in Porto Alegre and Bento Gonçalves, Southern Brazil, in 2010 were recruited to take part. The Healthy Eating Index for Brazilian Pregnancy (HEIP-B) was created, derived from the American instrument called Alternate Healthy Eating Index for Pregnancy (AHEI-P). Questionnaires on frequency of consumption and on socio-demographic factors were completed. Focused principal component analysis (ACPF) was used to assess the relationship between the index and nutrients relevant to pregnancy.
Results: The median (interquartile range) of AHEI-P and HEIP-B were 66.6 (57.8-72.4) and 67.4 (60.0-73.4), respectively. The HEIP-B showed a good positive correlation with nutrients which are specifically recommended for pregnancy: folate (r = 0.8; p < 0.001), calcium (r = 0.6; p < 0.001) and iron (r = 0.7; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The quality of the diet of the pregnant women in this study was classified as within the “improvements needed” cut off point, which demonstrates the need for more specific education on nutrition for this stage of life. The index showed good correlations and, thus, may be considered an effective tool for assessing the quality of nutrition during pregnancy.