Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Dietary guidelines

A diet following Finnish nutrition recommendations does not contribute to the current epidemic of obesity

Noora Kanervaa1 c1, Niina E Kaartinena1, Marja-Leena Ovaskainena1, Hanna Konttinena2, Jukka Konttoa1 and Satu Männistöa1

a1 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Chronic Disease Prevention, PO Box 30, FI-00271 Helsinki, Finland

a2 Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland


Objective Recently, the general public opinion is that nutritional recommendations promote obesity rather than prevent it. We created the Recommended Finnish Diet Score (RFDS) that illustrates the Finnish nutrition recommendations and assessed whether this score is associated with BMI, waist circumference (WC) and body fat percentage (BF%).

Design Cross-sectional study included two phases of the National FINRISK 2007 Study. Diet was assessed using a validated FFQ. Height, weight, WC and BF% were measured, and BMI values were calculated. The RFDS was developed based on the national nutrition recommendations.

Setting A large representative sample of the Finnish population.

Subjects Men (n 2190) and women (n 2530) aged 25–74 years.

Results The RFDS was inversely associated with WC in men (OR = 0·48, 95 % CI 0·28, 0·81, P < 0·05) and BF% in both men (OR = 0·44, 95 % CI 0·24, 0·82, P-trend < 0·05) and women (OR = 0·63, 95 % CI 0·37, 1·08, P-trend < 0·05). The inverse association of RFDS and BF% appeared stronger among older age groups (men: OR = 0·21 CI 0·07, 0·64, P-trend < 0·01; women: OR = 0·56, 95 % CI 0·25, 1·27, P-trend < 0·05) and among women with normal BMI (OR = 0·62, 95 % CI 0·36, 1·09, P-trend < 0·05). The RFDS was not associated with BMI.

Conclusions A diet following nutrition recommendations is likely to help to maintain normal WC and BF%. These findings could be useful for dietary counselling and the prevention of obesity.

(Received March 20 2012)

(Revised October 25 2012)

(Accepted November 09 2012)

(Online publication December 14 2012)


  • Dietary score;
  • Diet;
  • Abdominal adiposity;
  • Body fat percentage


c1 Corresponding author: Email