Group Roos & Ray

DAGIS – Increased Health and Wellbeing in Early Education and School Children

The DAGIS project focuses on socioeconomic differences in children’s energy balance-related behaviours (EBRB) and stress regulation and how they are influenced by factors in early education, at school and at home. A large cross-sectional survey of preschool children was conducted in 2015-2016 followed by a 5-month intervention to EBRBs and stress regulation in preschool children in 2017-2018. Participants will be followed up in 2023-2024.

DAGIS is a consortium study focusing on health and wellbeing in early education and school children in Finland. The DAGIS project is especially interested in following EBRBs (energy balance-related behaviours), including fruit and vegetable intake, intake of sugar-sweetened (everyday) foods and drinks, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, screen time, and stress regulation and investigating how they are associated with socioeconomic status. The DAGIS project has investigated the preschool as a setting for health promotion to improve EBRBs and decrease socioeconomic differences among children for these behaviours.

The DAGIS project started in 2014. A needs assessment, including a cross-sectional survey of over 800 children and parents across eight municipalities in Finland, was carried out in 2015-2016 (responsible researcher Eva Roos). The DAGIS survey study collected data on energy balance-related behaviours (EBRBs: sedentary and dietary behaviours, physical activity, sleep habits) and stress regulation in Finnish 3-6-year-old preschool children, alongside data on home and preschool environment. Survey findings were used to design an intervention program, which was carried out in 2017-2018 as a randomised controlled trial in preschools across two Finnish municipalities: Salo and Riihimäki (responsible researcher Carola Ray). The intervention aimed to improve children’s EBRBs and self-regulation skills and to decrease socioeconomic differences in EBRBs

Data collection for the DAGIS project continues in 2023. Participants in the DAGIS survey study in 2015-2016 will be followed up to investigate the relationship between circadian rhythms, eating, sleeping and adiposity among the now 11-14-year-old adolescents (responsible researcher Eva Roos). The relationship between early childhood diet and allergies and asthma will also be investigated in the same study.

Participants in the DAGIS preschool intervention in 2017-2018 will also be followed up to identify past and present environmental and individual factors linked to health behaviours, self-regulation and learning among schoolchildren (responsible researcher Carola Ray). The DAGIS Salo follow-up study will begin in autumn 2023 and the now 8-12-year-old schoolchildren in Salo municipality will be invited to participate in the study.

The DAGIS consortium continues to report findings and publish results via scientific articles. The consortium also includes research groups at University of Helsinki, led by Maijaliisa Erkkola and University of Eastern Finland, led by Nina Sajaniemi.

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Lead Scientist

Eva Roos, PhD, Professor, Consortium leader

Senior Scientists

Carola Ray, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Administrative leader

Reetta Lehto, PhD, Project Leader

Post-Doctoral Scientists

Josefine Björkqvist, MSc, Project Leader

Graduate Students

Riikka Pajulahti, MNutr

Anna Abdollahi, MNutr


Henna Launistola, MHealth Sciences

Nithya Serasinghe Vidanage, MNutr

Jenna Rahkola, MNutr

Aku-Ville Lehtimäki, MSocSci, MEconomics

Jasmine Gustafsson, MSocSci

Lehto R, Vepsäläinen H, Lehtimäki A-V, Lehto E, Leppänen M-H, Skaffari E, Abdollahi AM, Roos E, Erkkola M, Ray C. Effects of the DAGIS randomized controlled trial on home environment and children’s food consumption according to the degree of implementation. BMC Public Health. Accepted 5.10.2022.

Paasio H, Ray C, Kokkonen J-M, Lehto R, Nissinen K, Skaffari E, Vepsäläinen H, Erkkola M, Roos E. Sosiaalisen ja fyysisen kotiympäristön yhteys päiväkoti-ikäisten lasten ruokatottumuksiin. [Associations between social and physical home environmental factors and dietary habits among preschool-aged children in Finland]. Sosiaalilääketieteen aikakausilehti. Accepted 21.12.2021, to be published December 2022.

Ray C, van der Borgh-Sleddens E, Augusta de Oliveira Figueiredo R, Gubbels J, Bjelland M, Roos E. Psychometric properties of the item-reduced version of the comprehensive general parenting questionnaire for caregivers of preschoolers in a Finnish context. PLoS ONE 2022; 17(8): e0270869.

Lehto E, Lehto R, Ray C, Pajulahti R, Sajaniemi N, Erkkola M, Roos E. Are associations between home environment and preschool children’s sedentary time influenced by parental educational level in a cross-sectional survey? International Journal for Equity in Health 2021;20: 27.

Engberg E, Ray C, Määttä S, Figueiredo RAO, Leppänen MH, Pajulahti R, Koivusilta L, Korkalo L, Nissinen K, Vepsäläinen H, Sajaniemi N, Erkkola M, Roos E. Parental Happiness Associates With the Co-occurrence of Preschool-Aged Children’s Healthy Energy Balance-Related Behaviors. Journal of Happiness Studies 2021.

Samfundet Folkhälsan

Academy of Finland

Juho Vainio Foundation

Life and Health Medical Fund (Medicinska Understödsföreningen Liv och Hälsa)

Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation

Maijaliisa Erkkola, Adjunct professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Nina Sajaniemi, Professor, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Leena Koivusilta, Adjuct Professor, University of Turku, Finland

Jessica Gubbels, Associate professor, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

Katri Sääksjärvi, PhD, Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland

Alissa Burnett, PhD, Deakin University, Australia


    • Eva Roos

      Group Leader

    • Tel:
      +358 50 407 6382

    • Contact
    • Carola Ray

      Adjunct Professor, PhD, Project leader

    • Tel:
      +358 50 370 5193

    • Contact
    • Reetta Lehto

      Post-Doc Researcher, Project Leader

    • Tel:
      044 488 3080

    • Contact
    • Josefine Björkqvist

      Post-Doc Researcher, Project Leader

    • Tel:
      044 488 3067

    • Contact
    • Henna Launistola


    • Jenna Rahkola


    • Nithya Serasinghe Vidanage