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Questions Can dietary advice help people to lower their blood total cholesterol concentration? Which type of diet is most effective?
Studies were identified by searching Medline, Human Nutrition, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, and Allied and Alternative Medicine; handsearching the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; scanning the references of relevant trials; and contacting experts.
Studies published before 1996 were selected if they had ≥2 groups and included a control group, used random allocation, tested a global dietary modification, and measured lipid concentrations. Exclusion criteria were specific supplementation diets, multifactorial intervention trials, trials of lowering body weight or blood pressure, interventions of <4 weeks, and randomisation of workplaces or general practices.
2 reviewers extracted data on type of diet, compliance, mean change in blood total cholesterol concentration, …
Sources of funding: Department of Health and Medical Research Council; British Heart Foundation; Imperial Cancer Research Fund.
For correspondence: Dr J M Armitage, Senior Research Fellow, Clinical Trial Service Unit, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE,UK. Fax +44 (0)1865 404821.