For researchers

For detailed information regarding DAGIS, please read the study protocol article.

Picture8DAGIS is a research project interested in studying energy balance-related behaviours (EBRBs) and stress regulation in Finnish preschool children (3-6 year olds). The study takes into account differences in socioeconomic background and living conditions. Under the same project, a separate study focusing on work wellbeing is being conducted on preschool personnel.




DAGIS is built upon a socioecological framework. Based on this framework, EBRBs are influenced by factors at multiple levels, including intrapersonal (e.g. age), environmental setting (e.g. preschool, family), and societal level factors (e.g. socioeconomic neighbourhood). A key principle of socioecological models is interaction across levels. Consequently, interventions are more likely to be effective if focus is placed on evidence-based modifiable factors on multiple levels.

One possible factor associated with EBRBs and socioeconomic status in children is stress. Stress receives special attention in this study. Socioecological models propose that each environment setting contains multiple types of environments that interact within each other, for example, social (interaction with child), physical (materials and equipment related to EBRBs), policy (written rules and practices) and learning environments can be named from a preschool setting. Based on this approach, multiple levels (e.g. individual, environmental settings, societal) of analysis and diverse methodologies (e.g. surveys, observations, biological measurements) are used for assessing the healthfulness of environments (e.g. social, physical, occupational, learning, policy) in preschool and family settings.

Picture7Preschool aged children are the focus of DAGIS as they serve as a valuable intervention target since EBRBs are established in early childhood and tend to persist throughout life. Despite this, little research has been conducted into interventions in preschool settings.




The general aim of the study is to promote preschools as an environmental setting for healthy lifestyle and wellbeing – for both children and preschool personnel.

To achieve this aim, these specific objectives have been set:

Year Objective
2014-2016 Perform thorough analysis of the most important behaviours contributing to children’s energy balance and their most significant modifiable factors with special focus on low socioeconomic backgrounds.
2014-2016 Identify mediators and moderators in different sub-populations based on age, gender and socioeconomic background.
2014-2017 Design a preschool-based, family-involved intervention.
2016-2017 Implement an for preschool personnel.
2017-2018 Implement an intervention for children in the preschool setting.
2017-2019 Test the implementation and effectiveness of the interventions in a randomized control trial.
Methods and Design

IMG_1263DAGIS consists of two phases which have multiple stages. The first phase includes focus group interviews, a pilot study and a cross-sectional study. The second phase is an intervention.

These two phases are broken down into four key time periods:

Autumn 2014 Several focus group interviews for early educators and parents were conducted. The themes of the interviews were sedentary behaviours, food choices and physical activity.
Winter 2015 Several pilot-tests were conducted to test the planned methods and research protocol in the Finnish preschool setting.
Autumn 2015 – spring 2016 A comprehensive cross-sectional survey was conducted.  A total of 800 children wore an accelerometer for seven days. Hair and saliva samples were taken from these children. Parents and preschool personnel completed questionnaires with regards to social and physical environments as well as socioeconomic factors.  There were also questionnaires for catering personnel and heads of preschools. The preschool environment was observed during one day at each preschool.
2016-2018 An intervention with a randomised controlled trial (RCT) will be planned and conducted. The intervention will have two aspects: one for children and one for preschool personnel (DAGISWORK). Baseline measurements for children will be recorded at the beginning of the intervention in 2017 and follow-up measurements after 6 months at the end of the intervention in 2018. DAGISWORK will commence in 2016 for preschool personnel, this aims to improve personnel work wellbeing and health behaviours (responsibility of National Institute of Occupational Health). The effects of the interventions will be evaluated in a RCT. Implementations of the interventions will be evaluated.
The Research Group

Picture13DAGIS is a co-operation project with Samfundet Folkhälsan, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the University of Helsinki. The main responsibility of study is at Samfundet Folkhälsan. The project is led by Eva Roos, senior researcher at Folkhälsan. Contact details can be found here.


Results and MaterialsPicture16

Material in English can be found here.

Publications are updated here.