Pregnant Women’s Energy Consumption and Weight Gain: The Perspective of a Rural Community at Rongo District Kenya
Rombo, George O
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Women in poor rural communities often consume diets that are deficient in energy. Maternal malnutrition continues to be a global problem. Population studies indicate that kilocalorie intake is usually less than recommended and pregnant women often do not show a significant augmentation in energy intake. The prevalence of chronic malnutrition is reflected in the high incidences of maternal deaths, increased risk of disease, and lower pregnancy weight gain. Low rates of gestational weight gain increase the risk of low birth weight infants and shorter gestations and from an international health perspective, birth weight is the most readily available index of pregnancy outcomes. This study investigated women’s socio-demographic factors, energy intake, and and their influence on gestational weight gain among pregnant women attending Rongo Sub-District Hospital. Objectives of the study included determining socio-demographic factors, energy intake, assessing weight gain, and testing for relationships between energy intake, maternal variables and weight gain. The study adopted longitudinal design and comprehensive sampling was used to select a sample of 100 pregnant women. Data was collected by use of structured questionnaires, observation, 24- hour recall and food weighing techniques. Data was analyzed by SPSS and dietary data by use of Nutri-survey. Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient was used to test for significant relationships and t test for significant difference between mean of nutrients. Daily energy intake was found to be 1436.42 ± 421 Kcal/ day. Mean weight gain was 245.9±201std g/week and was higher for women with lower weight. The study found a significant relationship between energy intake and gestational weight gain (P≤ 0.05) and suggested possible confounding with certain socio-demographic factors. The pregnant women consumed fewer calories than the recommended levels. The study fills the knowledge gap, benefits future research work, government departments, NGOs, the community and pregnant women. The government and NGOs need to monitor gestational weight gain more closely in order to provide counselling as well as nutritional support to pregnant women.