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The Contribution of Preschool Meals to the Diet of Finnish Preschoolers

Department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, Kampusranta 11, 60101 Seinäjoki, Finland
Folkhälsan Research Center, Topeliuksenkatu 20, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
Department of Social Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Assistentinkatu 7, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
Faculty of Educational Sciences, P.O. Box 8, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
School of Applied Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Philosophical Faculty, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 111, 80101 Joensuu, Finland
Department of Public Health, Clinicum, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 20, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(7), 1531;
Received: 23 May 2019 / Revised: 17 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
PDF [289 KB, uploaded 5 July 2019]


Preschool meals may influence the formation of children’s dietary habits and health. We assessed the contribution of preschool meals to the diet of Finnish children. We used food record data from the cross-sectional DAGIS survey and selected recording days which included all three meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack) at preschool. We analyzed the diet of three- to four-year-olds (n = 324) and five- to six-year-olds (n = 233). Preschool meals accounted for 54% of the weekday’s energy intake in both age groups, and provided ≥60% of total fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins D and E. More than 60% of fish dishes but only one third of total daily fresh fruit were consumed at preschool. The mean (SD) percentages of energy from protein and fat at preschool were 17% (3%) and 30% (7%) in the younger and 17% (3%) and 31% (6%) in the older age group, respectively. The mean proportions of energy from added sugar at preschool were below 5% in both age groups. On average, salt intake exceeded recommendations and 60% of salt came from preschool food. Tackling high salt intake should be a future goal of guidance for early childhood education and care food services. View Full-Text
Keywords: preschool-aged children; kindergarten; day care center; catering; food consumption; dietary intake preschool-aged children; kindergarten; day care center; catering; food consumption; dietary intake

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Korkalo, L.; Nissinen, K.; Skaffari, E.; Vepsäläinen, H.; Lehto, R.; Kaukonen, R.; Koivusilta, L.; Sajaniemi, N.; Roos, E.; Erkkola, M. The Contribution of Preschool Meals to the Diet of Finnish Preschoolers. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1531.

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