For participants


DAGIS aims to study energy balance-related behaviours (EBRBs) and stress regulation of preschool children (3-6 year olds) in home and preschool settings. DAGIS is especially interested in fruit and vegetable intake, sugar-enriched food consumption, physical activity and sedentary behaviours. In addition to research on preschool children, DAGIS is studying work wellbeing, work load and health behaviours of preschool personnel.


Timetable and Methods of Study
Year Stage Description and purpose
2014 Focus group interviews Interviews with parents and preschool personnel were conducted.

These were used to gain knowledge about children’s EBRBs at home and preschool.

2014-2015 Pilot study A pilot study was used to test questionnaires and measuring equipment planned for the cross-sectional survey.

Information gained was used to adjust the study design for the cross-sectional survey.

2015-2016 Cross-sectional study A cross-sectional study is a study that analyses data that has been collected at one time point. Data was collected on children, parents, and preschool personnel.

This stage was conducted to investigate  children’s EBRBs, the roles of home and preschool environments, and to research preschool personnel’s lifestyle and wellbeing.

Please see below for more details.

2016 Workshops Participating parents and preschool personnel were invited to attend workshops.

Workshops were used to update participants on the results of the cross-sectional study and to further develop methods for the intervention.

2017-2018 Project A 6 month project with a randomised controlled trial will be conducted.  The project is based on the results of all the stages above.

The intervention is conducted to attempt to improve children’s EBRBs. Parents and preschool personnel will participate in the intervention. 

Please see below for more details.


If you have any questions about the study, you may always contact the research group. Contact information can be found here. The researchers can also contacted via email:


More Details

Picture4The comprehensive cross-sectional study in preschools from several municipalities began in autumn 2015. A number of preschools in each municipality were invited to participate. Invited preschools received detailed information regarding the study. Invited parents received an information letter. The information letters contained details about the structure of the study.

The following methods were used in the cross-sectional study:

  • Weight, height and waist circumference of children were measured by a trained research group.
  • Children wore an accelerometer for seven days to measure their activity. An accelerometer is a valid and reliable method that has been used in previous research involving children.  Parents completed a diary recording the activity of their child when the accelerometer was in use. The hours children spent in preschool and sleeping at home were documented. Information about the length of time children spent doing particular activities (e.g. watching television) were noted. From this information daily frequencies of sedentary behaviours could be estimated.
  • Saliva and hair samples were taken from each child to measure stress.  The saliva samples were taken both at home and at preschool. The home samples were taken five times during one weekend day. The preschool samples were taken twice during one preschool day. Hair samples (a few centimetres) were taken once during preschool hours by preschool personnel. A video of taking a saliva sample can be found here.
  • Parents and preschool personnel reported the diets of children. The food record was completed on two preschool days and one weekend day separately by parents and preschool personnel. Parents also completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) about their child.
  • A questionnaire was filled out by parents which included questions about their interaction with their child, the materials and equipment at home relating to EBRBs and socioeconomic background. Parents were also asked to complete a short questionnaire about the characteristics of their child and complete a FFQ about their own diet.
  • A questionnaire for preschool personnel asked about their interaction with children and the materials and equipment the preschool had relating to EBRBs.  The personnel also completed their own FFQ.
  • A questionnaire for the heads of preschools focused on written rules and practices in preschool.
  • There was a separate questionnaire for catering personnel.
  • The environment of preschools was observed by the research group. Observations focused on physical environment. These observations were conducted on the same day the accelerometers were put on the children’s waists.

Picture9The project aims to improve EBRBs of children. The structure will be defined and based on the results of the earlier phases.  The intervention will comprise of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) and last for 6 months, to be conducted in the school year 2017-2018. Participants will be invited and recruited before autumn 2017.

Baseline measurements for children and personnel will be taken in autumn 2017. Follow-up measurements will be taken in spring 2018 after 6 months.  The measurements taken will be a shortened version of those taken in the cross-sectional study.

More information regarding the intervention will be provided in autumn 2017.


Ethical Aspects


Ethical approval has been obtained for each stage of DAGIS and is continually updated.

Participants may withdraw themselves and all their information from the study without reason at any time. Participants should inform the researchers if they wish to withdraw from the study (contact details found here).

Materials are stored behind locked doors and electronic data is transferred to a secure database. Personal data is stored in a password-protected database, accessible to only a few authorised research group members. Information will only be used for scientific purposes. Personal data register for interviews (in Finnish) can be found here.


Results and Other Material

Picture14Materials related to the study will be uploaded in the materials section.

Scientific publications of the study are updated in the publications list.

If you have any questions about the study, you may contact the research group. Contact information is found here. The researchers can also be contacted via email: