Physical activity and dietary intervention 

The individualized and family-based physical activity and dietary intervention has been and will be carried out at Institute of Biomedicine, University of Eastern Finland.  

The goals of the intervention were to: 

1) increase total physical activity by emphasizing its diversity

2) decrease total and particularly screen-based sedentary behavior

3) decrease the consumption of foods containing large amounts of saturated fat and particularly high-fat dairy and meat products

4) increase the consumption of foods containing large amounts of unsaturated fat and particularly high-fat vegetable oil-based margarines, vegetable oils, and fish

5) increase the consumption of vegetables, fruit, and berries

6) increase the consumption of foods containing large amounts of fiber and particularly whole grain products

7) decrease the consumption of foods containing large amounts of sugar and particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar-sweetened dairy products, and candies

8) decrease the consumption of foods containing large amounts of salt and the use of salt in cooking

9) avoid excessive energy intake

The intervention included six physical activity counseling sessions of 30-45 minutes and six dietary counseling sessions of 30-45 minutes for the children and their parents during the 2-year follow-up. In these counseling sessions, the children and their parents received individualized advice from a specialist in exercise medicine and a clinical nutritionist on how to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary behavior, and improve diet among children in everyday conditions. Each counseling session had a specific topic of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and diet according to the goals of the intervention and included practical tasks on these topics for the children. In the counseling sessions, the children and their parents were also given fact sheets on physical activity, sedentary behavior, and diet, verbal and written information on opportunities to exercise in the city of Kuopio, and some financial support for physical activity, such as exercise equipment and tickets for indoor sports. Of all 306 children in the intervention group, 266 (87%) participated in all six counseling sessions, 281 (92%) in at least five counseling sessions, and 295 (96%) in at least four counseling sessions.

We also encouraged the children in the intervention group, particularly those who did not attend organized sports or exercise, to participate in after-school exercise clubs supervised by the trained exercise instructors of the study. In the after-school exercise clubs, the children had the opportunity to learn different types of physical activity. Of all 306 children in the intervention group, 254 (87%) children participated in some of the after-school exercise clubs and 124 (41%) children attended the after-school exercise clubs at least once a month.

The children and their parents in the control group received general verbal and written advice on health improving PA and diet at baseline but no active intervention.