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Dietary factors associated with overweight and body adiposity in Finnish children aged 6–8 years: the PANIC Study



To investigate the associations of dietary factors with overweight, body fat percentage (BF%), waist circumference (WC) and hip circumference (HC) among children.


Cross-sectional analysis of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study among 510 children (263 boys, 247 girls) aged 6–8 years from Kuopio, Finland.


The children’s weight, height, WC and HC were measured. Overweight was defined by International Obesity Task Force body mass index cutoffs. The BF% was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, nutrient intakes and meal frequency by 4-day food records and eating behaviour by Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire.


Daily consumption of all the three main meals was inversely associated with overweight (odds ratio (OR) 0.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.18–0.75), BF% (β −0.12, P=0.012), WC (β −0.16, P=0.002) and HC (β −0.15, P=0.002). Enjoyment of food, food responsiveness and emotional overeating were directly associated with overweight (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.04–2.35; OR 4.68, 95% CI 2.90–7.54; OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.52–4.45, respectively), BF% (β 0.13, P=0.004; β 0.30, P<0.001; β 0.09, P=0.035, respectively), WC (β 0.14, P=0.003; β 0.40, P<0.001; β 0.19, P<0.001, respectively) and HC (β 0.15, P=0.001; β 0.38, P<0.001; β 0.15, P=0.001, respectively). Satiety responsiveness was inversely associated with overweight (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.26–0.67), BF% (β −0.20, P<0.001), WC (β −0.26, P<0.001) and HC (β −0.26, P<0.001). Slowness in eating was inversely associated with overweight (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.41–0.92), WC (β −0.16, P=0.001) and HC (β −0.17, P<0.001). Protein intake was directly associated with BF% (β 0.11, P=0.017), WC (β 0.11, P=0.020) and HC (β 0.13, P=0.008).


Promoting regular consumption of main meals and healthy eating behaviours should be emphasized in the prevention of overweight among children. More research is needed on the association of protein-rich foods with body adiposity in children.

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We thank all voluntary subjects and their families for participating in the PANIC Study. We are also gratefully indebted to the PANIC Study research team members for their skillful contribution in conducting the study. We gratefully acknowledge MD, PhD David Laaksonen for editing the language of the manuscript, Eila Koski for DXA scans and PhD Marja Kalavainen and PhD Outi Nuutinen for the translation of the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire into Finnish language. This work has been financially supported by grants from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland, the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Foundation for Pediatric Research and the Kuopio University Hospital (EVO-funding number 5031343).

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Correspondence to T A Lakka.

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Eloranta, AM., Lindi, V., Schwab, U. et al. Dietary factors associated with overweight and body adiposity in Finnish children aged 6–8 years: the PANIC Study. Int J Obes 36, 950–955 (2012).

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  • children
  • overweight
  • diet
  • protein
  • meal pattern
  • eating behaviour

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