To study the associations between home food availability and dietary patterns among pre-school children.
Cross-sectional study in which parents of the participating children filled in an FFQ and reported how often they had certain foods in their homes. We derived dietary pattern scores using principal component analysis, and composite scores describing the availability of fruits and vegetables as well as sugar-enriched foods in the home were created for each participant. We used multilevel models to investigate the associations between availability and dietary pattern scores.
The DAGIS study, Finland.
The participants were 864 Finnish 3-6-year-old children recruited from sixty-six pre-schools. The analyses included 711 children with sufficient data.
We identified three dietary patterns explaining 16·7 % of the variance. The patterns were named 'sweets-and-treats' (high loadings of e.g. sweet biscuits, chocolate, ice cream), 'health-conscious' (high loadings of e.g. nuts, natural yoghurt, berries) and 'vegetables-and-processed meats' (high loadings of e.g. vegetables, cold cuts, fruit). In multivariate models, the availability of fruits and vegetables was inversely associated with the sweets-and-treats pattern (ß=-0·05, P
Effective interventions that target socioeconomic status (SES) differences to avoid the potential widening of inequalities in health are needed. Children at preschool age is a valuable intervention target since sedentary behaviors, physical activity (PA), dietary behaviors, and sleep habits, jointly called the energy balance-related behaviors (EBRBs), are established in early childhood and tend to persist later in life. The interventions are most effective, when they focus on evidence-based factors. One potential factor associated with EBRBs and SES is children's stress regulation, which receives special attention in this study. Based on the socioecological approach, the combinations of multiple levels (e.g. individual, environmental, societal) of analysis and diverse methodologies (e.g. surveys, observations, biological measurements) are used to assess the healthfulness of environments (e.g. social, physical, learning, policy) in preschool and family settings. The intervention aimed to diminish SES differences in EBRBs is then conducted in the preschool setting.
The DAGIS study is divided into two phases. The first phase comprises focus group interviews and a cross-sectional survey. Parents and preschool personnel in low SES neighborhoods participated in interviews about children's sedentary behaviors, dietary behaviors, and PA in 2014. In the cross-sectional survey beginning in autumn 2015, preschools will be recruited from a random sample of preschools in 3-5 municipalities in Southern Finland. A total of 800 children will wear an accelerometer for seven days. Children's hair and saliva samples will be taken. Parents and preschool personnel will complete questionnaires on EBRBs, social and physical environments and SES factors. The quality of preschool environment is also observed. In the second phase, an intervention targeting to narrowing SES differences in EBRBs is conducted. The effects of the intervention will be evaluated in randomised controlled trial. The implementation of the intervention will also be evaluated.
If effective, this unique preschool-based study will be able to narrow the SES differences in preschool children's EBRBs. This study is anticipated to identify the most important modifiable factors in preschool and family environmental settings associated with children's EBRBs, especially in children from low SES backgrounds.
ISRCTN57165350 (January, 8th, 2015).
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This paper describes the Increased Health and Wellbeing in Preschools (DAGIS) survey process and socioeconomic status (SES) differences in children's energy balance-related behaviors (EBRBs), meaning physical activity, sedentary and dietary behaviors, and long-term stress that serve as the basis for the intervention development. A cross-sectional survey was conducted during 2015?2016 in 66 Finnish preschools in eight municipalities involving 864 children (3?6 years old). Parents, preschool personnel, and principals assessed environmental factors at home and preschool with questionnaires. Measurement of children's EBRBs involved three-day food records, food frequency questionnaires (FFQ), seven-day accelerometer data, and seven-day sedentary behavior diaries. Children's long-term stress was measured by hair cortisol concentration. Parental educational level (PEL) served as an indicator of SES. Children with low PEL had more screen time, more frequent consumption of sugary beverages and lower consumption of vegetables, fruit, and berries (VFB) than those with high PEL. Children with middle PEL had a higher risk of consuming sugary everyday foods than children with high PEL. No PEL differences were found in children's physical activity, sedentary time, or long-term stress. The DAGIS intervention, aiming to diminish SES differences in preschool children's EBRBs, needs to have a special focus on screen time and consumption of sugary foods and beverages, and VFB.
A large proportion of young children spend most of their weekdays at preschool in Western countries. In Finland, three meals are included in a full day at preschool. These meals have the potential to promote healthy eating. This study aimed to obtain the personnel's (preschool teachers, day-care nurses) views on the factors influencing children's fruit, vegetable, and sugar-enriched food intake at preschool.
Four focus groups, in all 14 preschool personnel. Two researchers independently analysed the data using a socio-ecological framework.
At the child level, age, peers, and the child's personality were recognized as factors influencing the fruit and vegetable (FV) and sugar-enriched food intake. At the preschool level, both the physical and social environments were discussed thoroughly, whereas at the societal level, policies of the EU, the state, and the municipality were mentioned as factors that influence what children eat in preschool. The personnel also discussed the interactions between factors both between levels and within levels.
In Finnish preschools, children's food intake is influenced on and within several levels of the socio-ecological model. The identification of the factors influencing food intake allows different methods of intervention at multiple levels to promote healthy eating behaviours in preschools.
The objective of this study was to investigate cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between different family characteristics and body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in children.
This was a prospective follow-up study conducted in Helsinki region with data collected in 2006 and 2008. The sample consisted of 550 children aged 9-11 at baseline. Children were measured and weighed by research staff, and they completed a questionnaire about their family characteristics.
More meals together with the family, more parenting practices at meals, less time home without adult company after school, and child's perception of receiving care from mother in 2006 predicted a lower BMI in 2008 and partly a smaller increase in BMI from 2006 to 2008. Fewer associations were found to WHtR. Physical activity with either parent was not associated with BMI or WHtR.
Several family characteristics predicted child BMI and WHtR 2 years later. These results contribute new knowledge about parental influence on child weight and weight gain and should be taken into account when planning interventions on the matter.
In many studies it has been shown that breakfast is associated with normal weight in children and adolescents. Other meals, family meals and a regular meal pattern have been less studied. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine whether a regular meal pattern, or breakfast, lunch or dinner as separate regular meals, is associated with the BMI of children.
A cross-sectional study conducted within the Helsinki region during 2006. Study participants were measured and weighed by research staff. Children filled in a study questionnaire on their health behaviour, including the frequency of consuming meals. A regular meal was defined as one usually eaten on every school day. A regular meal pattern was defined as one consisting of a usual consumption of breakfast, school lunch and dinner on every school day. Covariance analysis was used as the statistical analysis method.
Capital region, Finland, 2006.
A total of 604 schoolchildren (312 girls) aged 9-11 years.
Irregular breakfast and an irregular meal pattern were associated with higher BMI. Regularity of school lunch, dinner or family dinner was not associated with BMI.
A regular breakfast and meal pattern was associated with lower BMI in children, although breakfast was the only single meal associated with BMI. We conclude that, although the association between breakfast and weight status in children is fairly consistent, the role of other meals is less convincing.
Little is known about the mediating effects of the determinants of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in school-based interventions that promote FV intake, and few studies have examined the impact of the degree of implementation on the effects of an intervention. The present study examined whether the degree of implementation of an intervention had an effect on children's fruit or vegetable intake and determined possible mediators of this effect. The study is part of the European PRO GREENS intervention study which aimed to develop effective strategies to promote consumption of fruit and vegetables in schoolchildren across Europe. Data from 727 Finnish children aged 11 years were used. The baseline study was conducted in spring 2009 and the follow-up study 12 months later. The intervention was conducted during the school year 2009-2010. The effects were examined using multilevel mediation analyses. A high degree of implementation of the intervention had an effect on children's fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and liking mediated the association between a high degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and bringing fruits to school as a snack mediated the association between a low degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Overall, the model accounted for 34 % of the variance in the change in fruit intake frequency. Knowledge of recommendations acted as a mediator between the degree of implementation of the intervention and the change in vegetable intake frequency. In conclusion, the degree of implementation had an effect on fruit intake, and thus in future intervention studies the actual degree of implementation of interventions should be assessed when considering the effects of interventions.