Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 692–703 | Cite as

Ultra-processed Food Consumption by Pregnant Women: The Effect of an Educational Intervention with Health Professionals

  • Caroline de Barros GomesEmail author
  • Maíra Barreto Malta
  • Maria Laura da Costa Louzada
  • Maria Helena D’Aquino Benício
  • Aluísio J. D. Barros
  • Maria Antonieta de Barros Leite Carvalhaes


Objectives Nutrition during pregnancy is related with many maternal and child outcomes. To investigate the consumption of ultra-processed foods is one of the newest methods to evaluate food consumption, but these studies in pregnant women are rare. Methods We conducted a non-randomized controlled educational intervention on healthy eating and physical activity during pregnancy in primary health care units of Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil. The sample comprised two groups of pregnant women with low obstetric risk, an intervention group (n = 181) and a control group (n = 172). The health professionals that assisted the pregnant women from the intervention group were trained to promote five healthy food practices during the prenatal care appointments: consumption of three fruits; two portions of vegetables; two portions of beans, at least 5 days per week; and restriction of soft drinks and industrially processed cookies. All pregnant women answered two 24-h dietary recalls per trimester, one face-to-face, another by telephone. The foods consumed by pregnant women were classified according Nova. The impact of the intervention on the ultra-processed food consumption was evaluated by multilevel linear regression analysis. Results A quarter of the energy consumed by the pregnant women provided from ultra-processed foods. The intervention reduced these percentage of energy between the first and second trimester of pregnancy by 4.6 points (p = 0.015). This effect was not observed in the third trimester of pregnancy. Conclusions for Practice Training health care professionals to promote healthy food practices is a viable and sustainable alternative to reduce ultra-processed foods during pregnancy.


Pregnant women Ultra-processed foods Dietary modifications Pregnancy Educational intervention 



The authors are grateful to all the pregnant women who participated in the study, to Collective Health Research Unit (UPeSC) of Botucatu Medical School for their technical and logistical assistance and to Botucatu Municipal Health Department for their support. This work was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (Grant Numbers: FAPESP 2014/06865-6; FAPESP 2011/18579-0).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline de Barros Gomes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maíra Barreto Malta
    • 2
  • Maria Laura da Costa Louzada
    • 3
  • Maria Helena D’Aquino Benício
    • 2
  • Aluísio J. D. Barros
    • 4
  • Maria Antonieta de Barros Leite Carvalhaes
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Saúde PúblicaBotucatu Medical School – São Paulo State University (UNESP)BotucatuBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de NutriçãoSchool of Public Health – University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Federal University of São PauloSantosBrazil
  4. 4.Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology – Federal University of PelotasPelotasBrazil

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