ABSTRACT. The paper describes the general outline of a multicentre study on the risk factors of coronary heart disease (CHD) and their determinants in children of various ages in different parts of Finland. The study was a cross-sectional one, and was carried out in 1980 in five university cities of Finland with medical schools and in 12 rural communities in their vicinity. The randomized sample included an equal number of boys and girls, aged 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 years, and an equal number of urban and rural population in each area. The total sample size was 4,320 subjects, and of these 3,596 participated (83.1 %). The families received before the medical examination of the child, questionnaires on the Socioeconomic background, the child's general health and development, the parents’and grandparents’health status, and the child's food and exercise habits. At the physical examination also a fasting blood sample (lipids, insulin, trace elements) was taken, a bundle of hair was cut for trace element analysis, and a 48-hour recall on food intake was obtained from every second subject.
19.5 % of the children had in their history some long-term disease, allergic diseases being the most common. CHD and other cardiovascular diseases were significantly more frequent among the grandparents and parents in eastern than in western Finland. The study is meant to be a basis for a longitudinal study.