How can an educational intervention promote healthy eating habits during pregnancy?

By Sheyla Costa de Oliveira, Obstetric Nurse, PhD in Nursing, Professor in the Department of Nursing of the Federal University of Pernambuco, PE, Brazil

Promoting healthy eating habits during pregnancy is a recommended policy by national and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and the Brazilian Ministry of Health. There is a substantial body of evidence to underpin food and nutrition policies and nutritional interventions to promote healthy eating during pregnancy that result in reduced maternal risks and undesirable fetal outcomes (BRASIL, 2013, 2016).

The article “Effects of an educational intervention during pregnancy: cluster randomized clinical trials” will be published in the Acta Paulista de Enfermagem (vol. 31, no. 3). The study assessed the impact of an educational intervention on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pregnant women regarding healthy eating through the use of regional foods. It also presents an educational booklet as an essential health promotion strategy for pregnant women to encourage and incentivize regional culture for healthy eating. Additionally, the material is a health education technology that can be used by nurses in prenatal visits.

This was a single-blind cluster randomized control trial conducted with two parallel groups: the intervention group, made up of pregnant women who received interventions based on the educational booklet (IG) and the control group (CG), with pregnant women who received nutritional orientation during their low-risk prenatal visits, as recommended by the primary care guidelines of the Ministry of Health (BRASIL, 2016). The IG consisted of 91 pregnant women, while the CG had 94. An educational booklet titled “Healthy Eating in Pregnancy with Regional Foods” (OLIVEIRA; LOPES; FERNANDES, 2014) was created and validated as part of this study’s intervention. Data were collected at healthcare units in the city of Recife, Pernambuco, according to the schedule of prenatal visits. The instrument was administered to both groups at 7 and 30 days post-intervention. Follow-up assessments were carried out for both the IG and CG by phone.

The effect of the educational booklet on the IG was statistically significant (p<0.001) at 7 and 30 days post-intervention when compared with the CG, and resulted in increased prevalence of adequacy of knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding the use of regional foods.

A previous study showed that using booklets is a way to conduct nutrition promotion actions in medical offices, which can also support verbal communication with clients (SZWAJCER, et al., 2009). Brobeck, et al. (2011) emphasize the importance of nutritional orientation in prenatal primary health care as a dynamic and participative process between professionals and pregnant women/family. Nurses must work together with pregnant women to achieve behavioral changes that promote healthy and adequate eating behaviors during this cycle of their lives.

The educational booklet was an effective intervention to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding the use of regional foods and its use is recommended during prenatal care and visits to promote healthy eating during pregnancy.


Política Nacional de Alimentação e Nutrição [online]. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde, 2013 [viewed 10 October 2018]. Available from:

Protocolos da atenção básica: saúde das mulheres [online]. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde, 2016 [viewed 10 October 2018]. Available from:

BROBECK, E., et al. Primary healthcare nurses’ experiences with motivational interviewing in health promotion practice. J Clin Nurs [online]. 2011, vol. 23-24, pp. 3322-3330, ISSN: 1365-2702 [viewed 10 October 2018]. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03874.x. Available from:

OLIVEIRA, S.C., LOPES, M.V.O. and FERNANDES, A.F.C. Development and validation of an educational booklet for healthy eating during pregnancy. Rev. Latino-Am. Enfermagem [online]. 2014, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 611-620, ISSN: 1518-8345 [viewed 10 October 2018]. DOI: 10.1590/0104-1169.3313.2459. Available from:

SZWAJCER, E. M. et al. Written nutrition communication in midwifery practice: What purpose does it serve? Midwifery [online]. 2009, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 509-517, ISSN: 0266-6138 [viewed 10 October 2018]. DOI: 10.1016/j.midw.2007.10.005. Available from:

To read the article, access it

OLIVEIRA, S.C., et al. Effect of an educational intervention on pregnancy: a cluster-randomized clinical trial. Acta paul. Enferm [online]. 2018, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 291-298, ISSN: 0103-2100 [viewed 10 October 2018]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-0194201800041. Available from:

External link

Acta Paulista de Enfermagem – APE: <>


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

OLIVEIRA, S.C. How can an educational intervention promote healthy eating habits during pregnancy? [online]. SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases, 2018 [viewed ]. Available from:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation