Assessing diet quality in a population of low-income pregnant women: A comparison between native Americans and whites

Vanessa Watts, Helaine Rockett, Heather Baer, Graham Colditz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • American Indians
  • Diet
  • Diet assessment
  • Diet quality
  • Nutrition
  • Pregnancy


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