Meal patterns and food use in 10- to 11-year-old Finnish children

Public Health Nutr. 2003 Jun;6(4):365-70. doi: 10.1079/PHN2002433.


Objective: To describe the meal patterns and food use on weekdays among 10- to 11-year-old Finnish children and to analyse these in relation to family's socio-economic status and the child's behaviour.

Design: Cross-sectional study on a cohort of 404 children aged 10-11 years in the rural town of Ylivieska, mid-western Finland.

Methods: A food-frequency questionnaire including questions on meal patterns and food use and the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) completed by the parents and the child together.

Results: Practically all children (99%) ate breakfast regularly, 94% had a daily school lunch and 80% had dinner at home daily. Vegetables were consumed daily at home by 26% and fruits or berries by 21%, while 46% of the children had salad daily at school. Twenty-four per cent ate sweets daily or nearly so on weekdays. The children from families of high socio-economic status ate vegetables more often, and fewer of them used butter or high-fat milk. The children with no regular family dinner ate sweets and fast foods more often, and had higher total CBCL problem scores than those with a regular family dinner.

Conclusion: Skipping meals appears not to be common among Finnish children aged 10-11 years, but a considerable proportion consume sweets frequently and vegetables infrequently. High family socio-economic status and a tendency to eat together are associated with healthy food choices among schoolchildren.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Candy
  • Child
  • Child Behavior* / physiology
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Social Class*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables