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Public Health Nutr. 2001 Jun;4(3):813-9.

The consumption of rye bread and white bread as dimensions of health lifestyles in Finland.

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National Public Health Institute (KTL), Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland.



The aim of this research was to describe the variation in bread consumption within social classes and to link this consumption to health-related lifestyles in Finland from 1978 until 1998.


A cross-sectional survey on health-related behaviour and socio-demographic factors has been conducted annually since 1978.


Mailed questionnaire.


A random sample of 5000 Finns aged 15-64 years has been drawn annually. The response rate has varied from 84% to 68%.


The consumption of rye bread decreased, but among the female population a slight increase appeared in the 1990s. The consumption of rye bread was associated with a low educational level and a rural place of residence. White bread was consumed less than was rye bread. White bread was consumed more frequently by the less educated in urban areas. Contrary to white bread, the consumption of rye bread was not associated with smoking, exercise or alcohol consumption.


The traditional place of rye bread in the Finnish dietary pattern has remained rather constant. White bread consumption has been associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. As a result, those Finns who are concerned about their health avoid white bread but seem not to associate rye bread with a healthier lifestyle. In Finland, rye bread has a different image to the image of whole-grain or dark brown bread in many other western European countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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