Longitudinal changes in diet from childhood into adulthood with respect to risk of cardiovascular diseases: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

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To assess nutrient intakes relevant in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) among young adults in Finland and to find past and present determinants of quality of diet.


Prospective study, 21 years of follow-up.


The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, Finland.


At baseline in 1980: 3569 children aged 3-18 y participated (83% of those invited), and every second of them (1780) were selected to the dietary study. At follow-ups in 1986 and 2001: 1200 and 1037 of the original sample, respectively, participated.


Food consumption was assessed using 48-h dietary recall. Intakes in 2001 were compared with those obtained in 1980 and 1986. Nutrients selected for further examination were those implicated in the risk of CVD: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and n-3 fatty acids, fibre and salt. An index describing the quality of adulthood diet was constructed. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify independent childhood and adulthood determinants of the quality index.


The average intakes showed substantial changes since 1980. Intakes of fat and saturated fat had decreased, while the consumption of vegetables and fruit had increased. However, a great disparity was present between the recommended levels and actual intakes for many of the nutrients, particularly salt, saturated fat and fibre. Intake of fat and consumption of vegetables in childhood and physical activity in adulthood were important health behavioural determinants of the cardiovascular quality of the adult diet. Socio-demographic factors, including education of the subject and their parents, had no significant associations with diet.


While intakes of energy and nutrients have changed favourably in Finnish young adults between 1980 and 2001 with regard to the risk of CVD, they are still far from recommended levels. Childhood diet is a significant determinant of adult diet even after 21 y.


This study was supported by the Academy of Finland (grant 77841) and Juho Vainio Foundation.

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