Public Health Nutrition

Research paper

Food consumption and nutrient intake in day care and at home in 3-year-old Finnish children

Jenni Lehtisaloa1 c1, Maijaliisa Erkkolaa1a2, Heli Tapanainena1, Carina Kronberg-Kippiläa1, Riitta Veijolaa3, Mikael Knipa4a5 and Suvi M Virtanena1a5a6

a1 Department of Lifestyle and Participation, Nutrition Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, FI-00271, Helsinki, Finland

a2 Division of Nutrition, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

a4 Hospital for Children and Adolescents and Folkhälsan Research Institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a5 Department of Paediatrics and Research Unit, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland

a6 Tampere School of Public Health, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland


Objective To assess and compare the food consumption and nutrient intake between 3-year-old children cared for at home full-time and those attending day care outside the home. Nutrient intake on weekdays and weekends was also studied.

Design Cross-sectional sample of children invited to the nutrition study within the Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) birth cohort born in 2001. Families returned 3-d food record completed close to the child’s third birthday.

Subjects A total of 471 pre-school children aged 3 years of whom 285 had only been cared for at home during the recording time and 186 had attended day care outside the home.

Results Among the children cared for outside the home, there were more consumers of recommendable foods as fresh vegetables, fruits, berries, rye bread, fish, skimmed milk and vegetable margarines, than among those cared for at home. The day-care group had higher intake of protein, dietary fibre, thiamine, potassium and magnesium, and lower intake of sucrose compared with the group cared for at home. Adjustment for sociodemographic factors did not change the results. In all children, food consumption was more varied on weekdays compared with weekends. On weekdays, children had higher intake of dietary fibre and protein and lower intake of sucrose compared to weekends.

Conclusions The type of day care was associated with food consumption and nutrient intake among pre-school children and hence might have an impact on their nutrition and health. The diet of the children attending day care outside the home was more balanced and closer to the national recommendations.

(Received July 20 2009)

(Accepted March 15 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email