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Public Health Nutr. 2010 Jun;13(6A):987-92. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010001199.

School and workplace meals promote healthy food habits.

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National Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, FI-00271, Helsinki, Finland.



The present study is to describe, on the basis of recent Finnish population surveys, (i) the frequencies of school and worksite canteen use, (ii) the determinants of having a hot lunch during school or working hours and (iii) the associations of lunch eating patterns with food habits.


The study summarises mainly basic reports and studies concerning catering services conducted in Finland based on nationally representative population surveys.Design and subjectsCross-sectional study. The most important surveys cited in this paper are the School Health Promotion Study, the Work and the Working Conditions survey, the National FINDIET 2002 Study, and the Health Behavior and Health among Finnish Adult Population survey.


School lunch is eaten by on average 70-90 % of children aged 9-18 years. Of all employees, 30 % eat at a worksite canteen daily, whereas 30 % of men and 45 % of women eat packed lunches. Nationally representative cross-sectional population surveys show that the use of catering services is associated with more healthy food habits; schoolchildren eating school meals and employees eating lunch at a worksite canteen tend to make food choices closer to nutritional recommendations as compared to those not using catering services to the same degree.


Some evidence exists that catering services in schools and worksites contribute to healthy eating habits in the population. In order to verify the positive role of catering services more scientific research with prospective and intervention design studies will be needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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