Group Roos & Ray

DAGIS – Increased Health and Wellbeing in Preschools

The DAGIS project focuses on socioeconomic differences in pre-schoolers’ energy balance-related behaviours (EBRB) and stress regulation and how they are influenced by factors at preschool and at home. A large survey was conducted in preschools in 2015-2016 and a 5-month intervention to EBRBs and stress regulation skills 2017-2018.

DAGIS (Increased Health and Wellbeing in Preschools) is a consortium study focusing on energy balance-related behaviours (EBRB) and stress regulation in Finnish pre-schoolers (3-6-year olds). DAGIS is especially interested in following EBRBs, fruit and vegetable intake, intake of sugary (everyday) foods and drinks-enriched foods, physical activity, sedentary behaviours, and stress regulation and how they are associated with socioeconomic status. DAGIS aim is to use preschool as a health promoting setting to improve EBRBs and to decrease socioeconomic differences among children in these behaviours.

The project consists of two phases, the first phase, a needs assessment (responsible researcher Eva Roos), included a cross-sectional survey (2015-2016) where 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 and data on home and preschool environment were collected. The second phase consisted of a five-month preschool randomised controlled trial (responsible researcher Carola Ray), which was conducted in 2017-2018. The intervention program was based on the results from the needs assessment. The intervention aimed to improve children’s EBRBs and self-regulation skills and to decrease differences in EBRBs. The study is now in the publication phase, data is analysed and results are reported in articles. The consortium includes also research groups at University of Helsinki, led by Maijaliisa Erkkola and Nina Sajaniemi. DAGIS (Increased Health and Wellbeing in Preschools).


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Lead Scientist

Eva Roos, PhD, Docent in Nutrition, Professor 

Senior Scientists

Carola Ray, PhD, Docent in Public Health, Administrative leader

Post-Doctoral Scientists

Reetta Lehto, PhD

Marja Leppänen, PhD

Graduate Students

Riikka Pajulahti, MNutr

Anna Abdollahi, MNutr


Hanna Paasio, MHealthSciences

Aku-Ville Lehtimäki, MSocSci, MEconomics

Jasmine Gustafsson, MSocSci

Hiltunen P, Leppänen MH, Ray C, Määttä S, Vepsäläinen H, Koivusilta L, Sajaniemi N, Erkkola M, Roos E. Relationship between screen time and sleep among Finnish preschool children: results from the DAGIS study. Sleep Medicine 2021 Jan, 77: 75–81.

Leppänen MH, Kaseva K, Pajulahti R, Sääksjärvi K, Mäkynen E, Engberg E, Ray C, Erkkola M, Sajaniemi N, Roos E. Temperament, physical activity and sedentary time in preschoolers – the DAGIS study. BMC Pediatrics 2021; 21, 129.

Pajulahti R, Salmela-Aro K, Lehto R, Vepsäläinen H, Lehto E, Nissinen K, Skaffari E, Sääksjärvi K, Roos E, Sajaniemi N, Erkkola M, Ray C. Does temperament make children differently susceptible to their home physical food environment? A cross-sectional DAGIS study on 3-6 year old Finnish children’s food consumption. Appetite. 2021;161:105140. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105140

Leppänen MH, Sääksjärvi K, Vepsäläinen H, Ray C, Hiltunen P, Koivusilta L, Erkkola M, Sajaniemi N, Roos E. Association of screen time with long-term stress and temperament in preschoolers: results from the DAGIS study. Eur J Pediatr. 2020 May 27. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03686-5. Online ahead of print.

Ray C, Figueiredo R, Pajulahti R, Vepsäläinen H, Lehto E, Lehto R, Erkkola M, Roos E. Effects of the Preschool-based Family-involving DAGIS intervention on Family Environment: A Cluster Randomised Trial. Nutrients 2020; 12: 3387. doi:10.3390/nu12113387.

Ray C, Figuereido R, Vepsäläinen H, Lehto R, Pajulahti R, Skaffari E, Sainio T, Hiltunen P, Lehto E, Korkalo L, Sääksjärvi K, Sajaniemi N, Erkkola M, Roos E. Effects of the Preschool-Based Family-Involving DAGIS Intervention Programme on Children’s Energy Balance-Related Behaviours and Self-Regulation Skills: a Clustered Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2599; doi:10.3390/nu12092599.

Määttä, S., Konttinen, H., de Oliveira Figueiredo, R.A. et al. Individual-, home- and preschool-level correlates of preschool children’s sedentary time. BMC Pediatr, 58 (2020).

Kaukonen, R., Lehto, E., Ray, C., Vepsäläinen, H., Nissinen, K., Korkalo, L., Koivusilta, L., Sajaniemi, N., Erkkola, M. & Roos, E. A cross-sectional study of children’s temperament, food consumption and the role of food-related parenting practices. Appetite. 2019. 138, July 1: 136-145.  doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.03.023

Lehto, R., Erkkola, M., Lehto, E., Konttinen, H., Vepsäläinen, H., Nislin, M., Nissinen, K., Vepsäläinen, C., Koivusilta, L., Roos, E., & Ray, C. Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Feeding Practices in Finnish preschools. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2019. doi: 10.1177/1403494819832114

Lehto, R., Ray, C., Korkalo, L., Vepsäläinen, H., Nissinen, K., Koivusilta, L., Roos, E. & Erkkola M. Fruit, Vegetable, and Fibre Intake among Finnish Preschoolers in Relation to Preschool-Level Facilitators and Barriers to Healthy Nutrition. Nutrients 2019, 11(7), 1458; 

Lehto,R., Ray,C., Vepsäläinen,H., Korkalo,L., Nissinen,K., Skaffari,E.,Määttä,S., Roos,E. & Erkkola, M. Early educators’ practices and opinions in relation to pre-schoolers’ dietary intake at preschool – case Finland. Public Health Nutrition. 2019. Feb 20:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S1368980019000077

Leppänen, M., Ray, C., Wennman, H.,  Alexandrou, C., Sääksjärvi, K.,  Koivusilta, L.,  Erkkola, M. &  Roos, E. Compliance with the 24-h movement guidelines and the relationship with anthropometry in Finnish preschoolers: the DAGIS study. BMC Public Health. 2019 Dec 3;19(1):1618.

Määttä, S., Konttinen,H., Lehto, R., Haukkala, A., Erkkola, M., & Roos.E. Preschool Environmental Factors, Parental Socioeconomic Status, and Children’s Sedentary Time: An Examination of Cross-Level Interactions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019, 16(1), 46;

Määttä S, Lehto R, Konttinen H, et al. Preschool group practices and preschool children’s sedentary time: a cross-sectional study in Finland. BMJ Open 2019;9:e032210. 

Ray, C., Kaukonen, R., Lehto, E., Vepsäläinen, H., Sajaniemi, N., Erkkola, M., Roos, E. Development of the DAGIS intervention study: a preschool-based family-involving study promoting preschoolers’ energy balance-related behaviours and self-regulation skills. BMC Public Health. 2019, 19:1670. .

Lehto, E.,  Ray,C., Vepsäläinen,H., Korkalo,L., Lehto,R., Kaukonen,R., Suhonen,E., Nislin,M., Nissinen,K.,Skaffari,E., Koivusilta,L., Sajaniemi,N., Erkkola, M. & Roos,E. Increased Health and Wellbeing in Preschools (DAGIS) Study—Differences in Children’s Energy Balance-Related Behaviors (EBRBs) and in Long-Term Stress by Parental Educational Level. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2018. 15(10), 2313;  Huom.  Taulukko 1. korjattuna

Määttä,S., Gubbels,J., Ray.C., Koivusilta,L., Nislin, M., Sajaniemi, N., Erkkola,M. & Roos,E. Children’s physical activity and the preschool physical environment: the moderating role of gender. Early Childhood Research quarterly. 2019, 47 (2). doi:

Määttä,S., Vepsäläinen,H., Lehto, R., Roos, E., Erkkola,M. & Ray, C. Reproducibility of Preschool Personnel and Guardian Reports on Energy Balance-Related Behaviors and Their Correlates in Finnish Preschool Children. Children 2018, 5(11), 144;

Määttä S., Ray C., Vepsäläinen H., Lehto E., Kaukonen R., Ylönen A. & Roos E. Parental Education and Pre-School Children’s Objectively Measured Sedentary Time: The Role of Co-Participation in Physical Activity International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2018. 15 (2), 366. doi:  10.3390/ijerph15020366

Määttä S.,Kaukonen R., Vepsäläinen H., Lehto E., Ylönen A., Ray C., Erkkola M. & Roos E. The mediating role of the home environment in relation to parental educational level and preschool children’s screen time: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2017. 17: 688. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4694-9 

Määttä S., Konttinen H., Haukkala A., Erkkola M. & Roos E. Preschool children’s context-specific sedentary behaviours and parental socioeconomic status in Finland: a cross-sectional study.  BMJ open. 2017,7:e016690. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016690

Määttä S.,Ray C.,Roos G. & Roos,E. Applying socioecological model to understand preschool children’s sedentary behaviors from the viewpoints of parents and preschool personnel. Early Childhood Education Journal.2016. 44(5), 491-502.

Ray C. ,Määttä S.,Lehto R.,Roos G. & Roos,E. Influencing factors of children’s fruit, vegetable and sugar-enriched food intake in a Finnish preschool setting – Preschool personnel’s perceptions. Appetite. 2016. 103, 72-79.

Määttä S.,Lehto R., Nislin M.,Ray C.,Erkkola M.,Sajaniemi N. & Roos,E. Increased health and well-being in preschool (DAGIS): rationale and design for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Public Health 04/2015. 15(1):402.

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 Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Leena Koivusilta, , Adjuct Professor, University of Turku, Finland

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