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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1991;623:332-49.

The North Karelia Youth Programs.

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National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Two family-based and two community- and school-based studies have been done in the province of North Karelia in eastern Finland. In the two family-based studies it was possible to decrease serum cholesterol level among children by 15%, showing that to a great extent the extremely high blood cholesterol level among Finnish children can be explained mainly by the typical Finnish diet high in saturated fat. In the first North Karelia Youth Project it was possible to affect the onset of smoking among adolescents. Two years after the program, smoking was about 30% less common in the intervention school than in the reference schools. In the eighth-year follow up survey the effect of the teacher-delivered program was still seen. In the second North Karelia Youth Project it was possible to delay the onset of smoking during the seventh grade but no permanent effect was seen. Diet was changed more among the program school students than in the reference school. These studies, done during the last 10 years, show the cardiovascular risk factors can be reduced among children and adolescents. The next main question is how to use these findings in the normal school and health care system. We have started the National Healthy School Program in Finland to assess the extent to which these programs can be implemented on the national level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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