Maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and subsequent gestational weight gain (GWG) are strong predictors of maternal and infant outcomes; however the influence of dietary patterns on BMI-specific GWG is unclear. This study identifies patterns of habitual dietary intake in urban South African women and explores their associations with first trimester BMI and GWG. Habitual dietary intake of 538 pregnant women was assessed using a quantitative food-frequency questionnaire and dietary patterns were depicted via principle component analysis. Associations between dietary patterns and BMI-specific GWG were analyzed using linear and logistic regression. Three dietary patterns were identified: Western, Traditional and Mixed. Western and Mixed diet patterns were associated with 35 g/week (p
= 0.021) and 24 g/week (p
= 0.041) higher GWG in normal weight and obese women respectively. Additionally, high intakes of a Traditional diet pattern were associated with a reduced odds of excessive weight gain in the total sample (OR: 0.81; p
= 0.006) and in normal weight women (OR: 0.68; p
= 0.003). Increased intake of a traditional diet pattern—high in whole grains, legumes, vegetables and traditional meats—and decreased intake of refined, high sugar and fat driven diets may reduce GWG (including risk of excessive weight gain) in urban South African women.
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