Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Nutrition, Under the Supervision of Professor Julie A. Albrecht. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Narissa E. Scales


Omega-3 fatty acid intakes may play an important role in maternal health outcomes and infant brain and neural development. Research has shown that pregnant African American women have intakes below recommended levels for optimal health. The aim of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of a culturally specific food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to measure total omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake of Midwestern African American women (n=49) of childbearing age and examine associations of maternal health issues from previous pregnancies. The omega-3 FFQ questionnaire was developed by 24 hour recall interviews, analyzed for content validity and pilot tested. The final culturally appropriate 187 item FFQ was then completed by women three times, via interview by an RD, along with three non-consecutive 24 hour recalls, in a two week period. Maternal health issues were assessed by demographic questionnaire. The reliability and validity of the FFQ was assessed by Cronbach’s coefficient alpha and Pearson correlation coefficients, respectively. Mean daily consumption of total omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, EPA, DHA and DPA, as estimated by the three administrations of the FFQ, were 2.68 + 1.37 g/day, 2.45 + 1.30 g/day, 0.07 + 0.07 g/day, 0.12 + 0.11 g/day and 0.03 + 0.02 g/day, respectively. The Cronbach’s coefficient alpha, for reliability of the FFQ, was 0.89 for total omega-3, 0.89 for ALA, 0.89 for EPA, 0.88 for DHA and 0.83 for DPA. The Pearson correlation coefficients as measured for validity between the FFQ and the recalls, were 0.44, 0.44, 0.59 and 0.60 for total n-3 fatty acid, ALA, EPA and DHA (P In conclusion, this culturally appropriate FFQ seems to be reliable and valid in measuring omega-3 fatty acid intake in Midwestern African American women. This tool may be used to assess other populations of African American women’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Adviser: Julie A. Albrecht