This study examined changes over time in relative health inequalities among men and women in four Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. A serious economic recession burst out in the early 1990s particularly in Finland and Sweden. We ask whether this adverse social structural'development influenced health inequalities by employment status and educational attainment, i.e. whether the trends in health inequalities were similar or dissimilar between the Nordic countries. The data derived from comparable interview surveys carried out in 1986/87 and 1994/95 in the four countries. Limiting long-standing illness and perceived health were analysed by age, gender, employment status and educational attainment. First, age-adjusted overall prevalence percentages were calculated. Second, changes in the magnitude of relative health inequalities were studied using logistic regression analysis. Within each country the prevalence of ill-health remained at a similar level, with Finns having the poorest health. Analysing all countries together health inequalities by employment status and education showed no major changes. There were slightly different tendencies among men and women in inequalities by both health indicators, although these did not reach statistical significance. Among men there was a suggestion of narrowing health inequalities, whereas among women such a suggestion could not be discerned. Looking at particular countries some small changes in men's as well as women's health inequalities could be found. Over a period of deep economic recession and a large increase in unemployment, particularly in Finland and Sweden, health inequalities by employment status and education remained broadly unchanged in all Nordic countries. Thus, during this fairly short period health inequalities in these countries were not strongly influenced by changes in other structural inequalities, in particular labour market inequalities. Institutional arrangements in the Nordic welfare states, including social benefits and services, were cut during the recession but nevertheless broadly remained, and are likely to have buffered against the structural pressures towards widening health inequalities.
The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity among children is of special concern. Inverse associations between sleep length and overweight have been found in children. Short sleeping hours result in hormonal changes, which increase perceived hunger and appetite. This could affect food intake, and consequently lead to overweight. The aim is to find out whether there is an association between adequate sleep and food consumption among 10-11-year-old school children in Finland. One thousand two hundred and sixty-five children (response rate 79 %), aged 9-11, from thirty-one schools filled in a questionnaire about their health behaviour. Inadequate sleep was measured as short sleeping hours during school nights and weekend nights, difficulties in waking up in the morning and tiredness during the day. Food consumption patterns were measured by two consumption indices, energy-rich foods and nutrient-dense foods, based on a short FFQ (sixteen items). Inadequate sleep is associated with food consumption patterns. Boys with shorter sleep duration during school nights, and who were felt tired during the day, were more likely to consume energy-rich foods. Girls with shorter sleep duration during school nights consumed more likely energy-rich foods and less likely nutrient-dense foods. Adjusting for physical activity and screen time weakened the explored associations. The associations with energy-rich foods were stronger for boys than for girls. Sleeping habits are associated with food consumption patterns. Shorter sleep duration during school nights in school children is associated with higher consumption of energy-rich foods.
This study examines the relationship between family-work conflicts with food habits and physical activity, and whether the relationship is dependent on family structure and work-related factors.
Cross-sectional postal surveys were carried out in 2001 and 2002 among employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland, aged 40-60 years (n = 5346, response rate 66%; for women 70% and for men 60%). Dependent variables in logistic regression analyses were nationally recommended food habits and physical activity. Independent variables were work-family conflicts and family-work conflicts. Covariates included age, marital status, number of children, occupational class, working hours, time travelling to work, and physical and mental work load.
Women reporting strong work-family conflicts were more likely to follow recommended food habits (odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals 1.49 (1.19-1.86)), but this relationship weakened when adjusting for work-related factors (OR 1.20 (0.93-1.55)). Women and men with strong family-work conflicts were less likely to report recommended food habits after adjusting for family structure and work-related factors (women OR 0.75 (0.61-0.92), men OR 0.57 (0.34-0.96)). Women and men with strong work-family conflicts were less likely to follow the recommended amount of physical activity (women OR 0.76 (0.60-0.96), men OR 0.54 (0.34-0.87)). Additionally, women with strong family-work conflicts were less likely to follow the recommended amount of physical activity (OR 0.77 (0.63-0.94)). Adjusting for family and work-related factors did not affect these associations.
Conflicts between paid work and family life are likely to constitute barriers for a physically active lifestyle and possibly also for healthy food habits. Improving the balance between work and family may provide a route for promoting health-related behaviours.
The aim of this study was to examine whether there are associations between working conditions and the use of staff canteen or packed meals among Finnish employees.
Data were obtained from cross-sectional surveys on working conditions, conducted triennially (1997, 2000, 2003) since 1997.
In each survey, the subjects were 25-64-year-old employed Finnish employees: 3096 men and 3273 women.
Employees at large workplaces used canteens far more often than those at smaller workplaces. Working conditions played a different role in canteen use at small and large workplaces, as well as among the different sexes. At small workplaces, physically demanding jobs held by female employees and low job control encouraged employees to use the canteen. On the other hand, at large workplaces, low social support at work encouraged the use of canteens among men whereas high mental strain at work meant they used the canteen less. Among women, eating packed meals was not related to working conditions, but among men, low social support and high mental strain at work were associated with more frequent use of packed meals.
The use of a staff canteen is largely determined by the size of the workplace and by employee education. The underlying factor could be the availability of canteens, a question which must be confirmed in further studies, since well-planned mass catering at workplaces has major effects on public health, well-being and the nutrition education of employees.
To examine how clusters of energy balance-related behaviours (EBRBs), including sleep related factors, were associated with overweight among adolescents.
In Finland, 4262 adolescents, aged 13-15, participated in the cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. The adolescents completed questionnaires assessing EBRBs [sleep duration, discrepancy and quality, physical activity (PA), screen time, junk food, fruit, and vegetable intake] and height and weight. Clusters were identified with ?-means cluster analysis and their associations with overweight with logistic regression analyses.
Common clusters for boys and girls were labelled "Healthy lifestyle" and "High screen time, unhealthy lifestyle". In addition, the cluster "Low/moderate screen time, unhealthy lifestyle" was identified among boys, and the cluster "Poor sleep, unhealthy lifestyle" among girls. Only girls in the cluster "High screen time, unhealthy lifestyle" were at increased risk for overweight.
Girls, whose EBRB was characterized by high screen time and low PA, but not with poor sleep, were at increased risk for overweight. Future studies should examine ways to promote PA among adolescent girls with high interest in screen-based activities.
The main aim of this study is to compare the patterning of health by family status and employment status among women in Finland and Sweden and to explore whether the patterning of health by family status is influenced by employment status and income. An additional aim was to identify which combinations of family status and employment status are especially disadvantageous for women's health . The data derived from comparable interview surveys carried out in 1994/1995. The analyses were restricted to ages 25-49; 2282 women in Finland and 2685 in Sweden. Firstly, age-adjusted prevalence percentages were presented by family status and employment status. Secondly, the patterning of health by family status and employment status, and the influence of adjusting for income, were studied by logistic regression analysis. The main results showed that women living in couples with children had the best health in both countries. Additional analyses showed that in Finland particularly poor health can be found among women who are simultaneously non-partnered and non-employed, whereas in Sweden poor health can be found among all non-employed groups of women. Income did not explain the poor health among the non-partnered and non-employed. This study confirmed that health is patterned by family status and employment status both among Finnish and Swedish women. It was found that non-employed women without a partner are likely to have poor health. In order to reduce inequalities in health among women, more efforts should be put on promoting health among these groups.
This study investigated whether computer use is associated with health symptoms through sleep duration among 15-year olds in Finland, France and Denmark.
We used data from the WHO cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study collected in Finland, France and Denmark in 2010, including data on 5,402 adolescents (mean age 15.61 (SD 0.37), girls 53%). Symptoms assessed included feeling low, irritability/bad temper, nervousness, headache, stomachache, backache, and feeling dizzy. We used structural equation modeling to explore the mediating effect of sleep duration on the association between computer use and symptom load.
Adolescents slept approximately 8 h a night and computer use was approximately 2 h a day. Computer use was associated with shorter sleep duration and higher symptom load. Sleep duration partly mediated the association between computer use and symptom load, but the indirect effects of sleep duration were quite modest in all countries.
Sleep duration may be a potential underlying mechanism behind the association between computer use and health symptoms.
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
Electronic media use is becoming an increasingly important part of life for today's school-aged children. At the same time, concern of children's sleep habits has arisen, and cross-sectional studies have shown that electronic media use is associated with short sleep duration and sleep disturbances. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to investigate whether baseline electronic media use and media presence in a child's bedroom predicted sleep habits as well as changes in these sleep habits 18 months later among 10- to 11-year-old children in Finland.
The school-aged children (n=353, 51% girls) from 27 schools answered a questionnaire in 2006 and again 2008 in the Helsinki region of Finland. Electronic media use was measured by computer use and TV viewing. Media presence in a child's bedroom means the presence of a TV or a computer in a child's bedroom. Sleep habits were measured by bedtimes on school days and at the weekend days, sleep duration, discrepancy of bedtimes, and discrepancy of sleep duration between school days and weekends. Linear regression analyses were used to examine whether electronic media use and media presence predicted sleep habits with adjustments for grade, family structure, and baseline sleep. Gender differences were also examined.
The children used a computer for one hour per day and watched TV over one hour a day in 2006. They slept over nine hours on school days and over ten hours at the weekends in 2008. Computer use and television viewing predicted significantly shorter sleep duration (p
We examined whether there are sex differences in children's fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and in descriptive norms (i.e. perceived FV intake) related to parents and friends. We also studied whether friends' impact is as important as that of parents on children's FV intake. Data from the PRO GREENS project in Finland were obtained from 424 children at the age 11 years at baseline. At baseline, 2009 children filled in a questionnaire about descriptive norms conceptualised as perceived FV intake of their parents and friends. They also filled in a validated FFQ that assessed their FV intake both at baseline and in the follow-up in 2010. The associations were examined with multi-level regression analyses with multi-group comparisons. Girls reported higher perceived FV intake of friends and higher own fruit intake at baseline, compared with boys, and higher vegetable intake both at baseline and in the follow-up. Perceived FV intake of parents and friends was positively associated with both girls' and boys' FV intake in both study years. The impact of perceived fruit intake of the mother was stronger among boys. The change in children's FV intake was affected only by perceived FV intake of father and friends. No large sex differences in descriptive norms were found, but the impact of friends on children's FV intake can generally be considered as important as that of parents. Future interventions could benefit from taking into account friends' impact as role models on children's FV intake.