Emerging evidence indicates that the nutritional status of parents at conception, and even before, influences the lifelong physical and mental health of their future children. Worldwide action is called for in translating this knowledge into public health benefits. In Precondiet we use existing unique Norwegian health surveys linked with birth registry data to explore adolescent and pre-pregnancy diet in relation to maternal and child health outcomes. Dietary data from HUNT at adolescent age are explored. In addition, dietary data from the first 5000 participants in MoBa will be used since diet prior to pregnancy is assessed in these participants.
In the proposed project, PREPARED, we will explore causal relationships between preconception diet and health in the next generation in two studies and from different angles. We will develop, implement and evaluate a theory and evidence-based digital intervention aiming to improve prospective parents’ preconception diet and promote health in the next generation. To evaluate the effect of the intervention on subsequent pregnancy and child health, data will be linked with birth registry data. Digital interventions have the advantage of being cheap and having exceptional reach into populations previously hard to engage in research. This also provides the potential to address social inequalities in health. PREPARED will expand and generate new knowledge on the importance of preconception diet for health in the next generation, and provide a health-promoting tool that can be applied both nationally and internationally. PREPARED may give Norway a chance to participate in the forefront of this cutting-edge area of research.
Funding: University of Agder
Skills for Life
Skills for Life is a project targeting young adults in order to promote knowledge, skills and competencies needed for their immediate and long-term health and wellbeing. In addition, young adults are literally carriers of the next generation. Investments into the health of young adults have been shown to positively impact health prospects of future children. We aim to develop and pilot an diet literacy course in cocreation with the target group. Initially, several focus group interviews will be carried out among students to identify enhancers and barriers to healthy eating as well as young adults’ thoughts and perceptions around diet in relation to future parenthood. The course content will be developed in cocreation with bachelor students in nutrition and discussed in focus groups in recruited from all over the university to modify and adapt the content. Finally, the adapted course will be evaluated in a group of 30 students from different faculties. The ultimate aim is to establish an ECT-yielding course to be offered to students every year or semester along with other relevant life skills courses.
Funding: University of Agder
College students constitute a significant proportion of the young adult population in Norway. They are in their reproductive years, which is of interest regarding diet and preconception health.
In 2019 we performed a cross sectional survey among university students at the University of Agder. The objective of Studentkost was to assess young college students' diet and nutrient intake. We compared their diet to national dietary recommendations and assessed the probability of inadequate micronutrient intake for both genders using the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, and we also evaluated its consequences on preconception health to create a groundwork for future interventions on this group.
In 2019 we enrolled 622 students aged 18-40 years. The students completed a food frequency questionnaire, including questions of supplement use, over the past 4 weeks. Intake of fruits, vegetables, oily fish, and whole grain was lower than recommended, as were mean intake of folate, iron, and iodine. Our main findings are that students have a somewhat suboptimal diet compared to the Norwegian dietary guidelines. Male students had generally lower diet quality than females. Compared to the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR), we also saw a relatively high probability of inadequate intake of several micronutrients and a very high probability for some micronutrients in a significant portion of the sample. Our findings encourage further investigation into young adults' diet.
In 2020 we performed a new cross-sectional study among first year university students. Results are not yet published.