ABSTRACT: The nutritional status of women is critical for the health of future generations and in reducing the burden of disease. Obstetrician–gynecologists have a unique opportunity to provide nutritional assessment and counseling to women throughout the life cycle, from early adolescence through older adulthood. Ensuring the optimal health of women before conception, during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period establishes the cycle of health for the next generation. A considerable proportion of global disease can be attributed to poor nutrition; not only the effects of undernutrition and deficiencies in micronutrients but also risk factors associated with diet, such as excess weight, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and low intake of fruit and vegetables. An optimal diet can lead to an increased life expectancy and improved quality of life.
This monograph is designed to provide a basic understanding of nutrition for women throughout the life cycle. In the section “Basic Science Update,” fundamental nutrition concepts are explained, such as types of nutrients, nutrition facts labels on food products, and the current national recommendations for optimal diet and physical activity. In the section “Common Nutritional Problems,” several health issues associated with poor nutrition that obstetrician–gynecologists may encounter in their practices are described. In the section “Screening and Prevention,” tools are provided that can facilitate health care provider–patient conversations regarding healthy lifestyle choices and that can help identify risk factors for disease. In the section “Evaluation and Diagnosis,” methods for measuring adiposity, vitamin D, hemoglobin A1C, and iron status are outlined. The “Management” section includes specific evidence-based suggestions on how to identify and provide support to patients with common nutrition-related problems.