Energy intake,physical activity and gestational weight gain among pregnant women at Rongo sub-district hospital
Odiwuor, Florence Oyeho
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Women in poor rural communities often engage in heavy physical activity yet consume diets that are deficient in energy. Pregnant women often do not show an augmentation in kilocalorie intake yet continue with heavy physical work. Strenuous work may alter a pregnant woman's nutritional status and therefore increase her risk of morbidity, mortality and low gestational weight gain which is a key risk factor for low birth weight. This study aimed to investigate maternal energy intake, and levels of physical activity and their influence on gestational weight gain among pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at Rongo Sub-District Hospital Migori District. Objectives of the study included determining socio-economic factors, determining energy intake, assessing weight gain, determining physical activity levels and energy expenditure, and testing for relationships between energy intake, physical activity, socioeconomic factors and weight gain. The study expected to find no significant relationship between dietary energy intake, physical activity and maternal weight gain. The study adopted a longitudinal design and comprehensive sampling was used to select a sample of 100 pregnant women for the study. Data was collected by use of structured questionnaires for socioeconomic, physical activity and weight measurements. Dietary intake was obtained by use of 24- hour recall and food weighing technique on 10 % of the women. Observation was carried out on 10% of the women to obtain physical activity data. Data was analyzed by use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 9) and dietary data was analyzed by use of Nutri-survey computer package. Descriptive statistics was used to describe other data. Pearson's Product Moment Correlation Coefficient was used to test for significant relationships between variables and t test was used to test for significant difference between mean of nutrients.Daily energy intake was found to be 1436.42 ± 421.8 std Kcall day while energy expenditure on physical activity was found to be averagely 1780 ± 500 std kcal/day. Weight gain was found to be an average of 245.9±201std g/week and was higher for women who started their pregnancies with a lower weight. The pregnant women spent 14 hours a day on activity and dedicated most of their time per day on domestic work (31810) and least on economic activities (11%). The study found a positive and significant relationship between energy intake and gestational weight gain but found no significant relationship between energy expenditure on physical activity and gestational weight gain ~ 0.05). Pregnant women in this study consume fewer calories than what is recommended as adequate and this appeared to affect their weight gain although the study suggests possible confounding with other socioeconomic variables. Weight gain was not influenced by physical activity therefore further investigation may be required to isolate the effect of physical activity on gestational weight gain. The study fills the knowledge gap, for a study of this kind has not been done in this locality and is of benefit to future research work, various government departments, local and international agencies, the community and pregnant women. The government and health and nutrition organizations need to monitor gestational weight gain more closely in order to provide counselling as well as nutritional support to pregnant women.