Dietary Patterns and Quality in Lactating Women Enrolled in A 12-Week Dietary and Exercise Study

Faculty Mentor

Heather L Colleran, Ph.D. RDN CSSD LDN CSCS


Food and Nutritional Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Obesity in America has risen to epidemic levels over the past 10-years. Retention of weight gained during pregnancy may be a contributing factor. Breastfeeding may reduce long-term maternal weight retention from pregnancy and is recommended for at least the first six-months. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a 12-week nutrition and exercise program on dietary patterns and quality in lactating women, who were enrolled in the MEEMA (Moms Exercising and Eating for Maintaining Health and Active Lifestyle) study. Eligible women completed baseline and endpoint three-day diet interviews recorded on the Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR 2019, UMinn). Participants randomized into the IG (n=6) underwent 12-weeks of exercise, nutrition education and were given 6-oz of yogurt 3-times/week. IG increased their fruit intake (1.1 to 1.8 servings), vegetable intake (3.3 to 4.4 servings) and total grains (1.8 to 7.8 servings) to meet the recommended servings. Dairy intake remained unchanged and below the recommendation of 3 servings/day. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores for the women declined (59.8+6.4 to 54.3+11.2 out of 100), due to a reduction in whole grain intake. Overall, IG increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and grains; decreased consumption of sweets and protein intake to meet recommendations. The findings suggest that exercise, nutrition education, and yogurt consumption may improve dietary patterns of lactating women. However, more tailored nutrition education is needed to improve HEI scores. Funded by Evans Allen National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) USDA, grant number NC.X.-309.5-18-170-1.

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