Dietary intake knowledge and reasons for food restriction during pregnancy among pregnant women attending primary health care centers in Ile-Ife, Nigeria

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Mattew O. Oluleke, Akintayo O. Ogunwale, Oyedunni S. Arulogun, Ademola L. Adelekan


The study investigated dietary intake knowledge and reasons for food restriction during preg-nancy among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. This cross-sectional survey involved 530 pregnant women visiting 35 primary health care (PHC) centers in Ile-Ife. Interview-er-administered questionnaire used to collect data included a 30-point knowledge scale and food restric-tion related questions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square at P = 0.05. Mean age was 27.0 ± 5.3 years, 44.5% had tertiary education and 11.1% earned above ₦50,000 monthly (ap-proximately US$315). Mean knowledge score was 23.6 ± 4.2 and 75.5% had good knowledge. Higher education was significantly associated with good knowledge of dietary intake. Reasons for food restric-tion during pregnancy included cultural taboos (36.5%) and religious beliefs (12.1%). Major foods that were restricted or avoided for cultural reasons were protein and vitamin-rich foods such as snail (97.5%) and walnut (84.0%). Foods avoided based on religious beliefs included pork (87.4%) and dog (76.9%). A higher proportion (94.8%) of respondents who earn more than ₦50,000 avoided foods due to cultural taboos (94.8%) compared with those without monthly income (58.3%) (P≤0.05). The proportions of respondents who avoided foods due to cultural taboos with no formal, primary, secondary, and tertiary education were 95.5%, 93.8%, 79.8%, and 86.4% respectively (P≤0.05). Overall, respondents were knowledgeable about dietary intake. However, cultural taboos and religious beliefs were major reasons for food restriction among pregnant women and were more pronounced among women with low educa-tion and low monthly income. Nutrition education interventions are needed to address the phenomenon.


pregnant women; food restriction; dietary intake; cultural taboos

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