Dietary diversity, a qualitative measure of dietary intake, which reflects the variety of foods consumed has been recommended to assuage nutritional problems related to insufficient micronutrients, and food insecurity. To better understand the underlying factors for poor birth outcomes in Ghana, we assessed factors associated with dietary diversity among rural and urban pregnant adolescents in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
As part of a larger longitudinal cohort of 416 pregnant adolescents, the FAO minimum dietary diversity for women index was used to determine the dietary diversity score (DDS) of the participants from a previous days’ 24-hour dietary recall data. The household hunger scale (HHS) and lived poverty index (LPI) were used to determine hunger and socioeconomic status. Eating behavior and socio-demographic data were gathered using interviewer-administered questionnaires.
The mean age of the participants was 17.5 (±1.4) years with an MDD-W of 4.4 and 56% recording inadequate MDD score. More rural (63.6%) than urban dwellers (50.6%) had inadequate DDS (p = 0.008). Among all the multiple variables tests of associations on dietary diversity, only hunger status (p = 0.028) and both food aversion and poverty status (p = 0.003) had a significant effect on the adolescents’ dietary diversity. Rural dwelling adolescents (AOR = 1.7, p = 0.035, 95% CI = 1.0–2.6) recorded higher odds for inadequate DD compared with the urban respondents. Pregnant adolescents with severe hunger had higher odds (Unadjusted OR = 1.9, p = 0.053, 95% CI 1.1–3.8) for inadequate dietary diversity compared with those with no hunger.
Inadequate DD is common among pregnant adolescents in this study and is associated with rural living, food insecurity, poverty, and food craving. Livelihood support for pregnant teenagers and nutrition education are recommended interventions to improve dietary quality and limit the consequences of poor dietary diversity.