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Dietary factors and their associations with socioeconomic background in Finnish girls and boys 6–8 years of age: the PANIC Study



To study nutrient intake, food consumption and meal pattern, and their associations with socioeconomic background in Finnish children.


The subjects were a population sample of 424 children (211 girls, 213 boys) 6–8 years of age. Nutrient intake and meal pattern were measured by food records, and food intake and socioeconomic characteristics were assessed by questionnaires.


Intakes of saturated fat, sucrose and salt were higher, and intakes of vitamin D, iron and fibre and unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio lower than recommended. Less than 5% of children consumed vegetables, fruit and berries as recommended. Children with highest parental education more likely ate fish (odds ratio (OR) 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–4.54), fibre-rich bread (OR 5.06, 95% CI 1.80–14.29) and main meals (OR 2.54, 95% CI 1.34–4.83), but less likely used soft margarine (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.20–0.94) as recommended than children with lowest parental education. Children with highest household income more likely consumed skimmed milk (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.21–4.88) and fish (OR 2.21, 95% CI 1.12–4.36) as recommended than children with lowest household income. Only 34% of girls and 45% of boys ate all main meals daily. Snacks provided as much as 42% of total energy intake.


Children do not meet recommendations in all important nutrients. Children from lowest socioeconomic position least likely consumed fish, skimmed milk and fibre-rich bread and ate main meals, but most likely used soft margarine as recommended. Less than half of children ate all main meals daily.

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We thank the voluntary subjects and their families who participated in this study. We are also gratefully indebted to the PANIC Study research team members for their skillful contribution in performing the study. This work has been financially supported by grants from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, the Ministry of Education of Finland, the University of Kuopio, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Foundation for Paediatric Research and the Kuopio University Hospital EVO.

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Correspondence to T A Lakka.

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Eloranta, A., Lindi, V., Schwab, U. et al. Dietary factors and their associations with socioeconomic background in Finnish girls and boys 6–8 years of age: the PANIC Study. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 1211–1218 (2011).

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  • children
  • diet
  • nutrients
  • meal pattern
  • socioeconomic status

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