OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the nutritional habits and weight management strategies of women trying to conceive as compared with women not trying to conceive.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional survey of health behaviors including nutritional habits and weight management strategies of women aged 16–40 years who were low income, racially diverse, (n=1,711), and attending reproductive health clinics. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between pregnancy intention and various health behaviors after adjusting for demographic variables, gravidity, and obesity status.
RESULTS: A total of 8.9% (n=153) of the participants stated they were trying to get pregnant. Women trying to conceive were more likely than those not trying to have participated in a number of unhealthy weight loss practices in the past year. These included taking diet pills, supplements, or herbs (13.5% compared with 8.8%; adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.97, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11–3.49), using laxatives or diuretics or inducing vomiting (7.7% compared with 3.0%; adjusted OR 2.70, CI 1.23–5.91), and fasting for 24 hours (10.7% compared with 5.5%; adjusted OR 2.15, CI 1.03–4.51). There were no significant differences between the two groups in amount of exercise, current smoking status, or current alcohol consumption Furthermore, fruit, green salad and other vegetables, and intake of soda and fast food were unrelated to pregnancy intention.
CONCLUSION: This study highlights that women trying to conceive are more likely to participate in unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight loss practices than women not trying to conceive.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II