British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Major dietary patterns and cardiovascular risk factors from childhood to adulthood. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Vera Mikkiläa1 c1, Leena Räsänena1, Olli T. Raitakaria2, Jukka Marniemia3, Pirjo Pietinena4, Tapani Rönnemaaa5 and Jorma Viikaria5

a1 Division of Nutrition, PO Box 66, University of Helsinki, FIN-00014 Finland

a2 Department of Clinical Physiology, University of Turku, Finland

a3 Department of Health and Functional Capacity, National Public Health Institute, Turku, Finland

a4 Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland

a5 Department of Medicine, University of Turku, Finland


Studies on the impact of single nutrients on the risk of CVD have often given inconclusive results. Recent research on dietary patterns has offered promising information on the effects of diet as a whole on the risk of CVD. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is an ongoing, prospective cohort study with a 21-year follow-up to date. The subjects were children and adolescents at baseline (3–18 years, n 1768) and adults at the latest follow-up study (24–39 years, n 1037). We investigated the associations between two major dietary patterns and several risk factors for CVD. In longitudinal analyses with repeated measurements, using multivariate mixed linear regression models, the traditional dietary pattern (characterised by high consumption of rye, potatoes, butter, sausages, milk and coffee) was independently associated with total and LDL cholesterol concentrations, apolipoprotein B and C-reactive protein concentrations among both genders, and also with systolic blood pressure and insulin levels among women and concentrations of homocysteine among men (P < 0·05 for all). A dietary pattern reflecting more health-conscious food choices (such as high consumption of vegetables, legumes and nuts, tea, rye, cheese and other dairy products, and alcoholic beverages) was inversely, but less strongly associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Our results support earlier findings that dietary patterns have a role in the development of CVD.

(Received January 30 2006)

(Revised January 03 2007)

(Accepted January 11 2007)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr V. Mikkilä, fax +358 (0)9 191 58269, email


Abbreviations: CRP, C-reactive protein