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Review: dietary advice leads to a modest reduction in blood cholesterol concentration

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Questions Can dietary advice help people to lower their blood total cholesterol concentration? Which type of diet is most effective?

Data sources

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.

Study selection

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.

Data extraction

2 reviewers extracted data on type of diet, compliance, mean change in blood total cholesterol concentration, …

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  • 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.