Highlights of the recent national diet-heart study

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THE serious question of whether diet is or is not an important factor in producing atherosclerosis with its associated coronary and cerebral disease has not yet been tested. In the spring of 1960, a group of scientists met to explore ways and means for conducting such a test. As a result of these deliberations, The National Diet-Heart Study was undertaken.

Experience in the conduct of a large-scale study had to be acquired before such an experiment to demonstrate an association between diet and heart disease could be undertaken. The proposed diets increased polyunsaturated fatty acids and decreased saturated ones as well as cholesterol itself. The free-living participants of the study required accustomed food products easily available, a requirement necessitating specially processed foods to implement dietary changes. Patterns of eating were emphasized because the word ‘diet’ suggests to lay persons something highly restrictive and often distasteful. It was uncertain whether or not the confirmed eating habits and pleasures of most persons could be changed, even with their consent.

Consequently, it was the purpose of the two-year Feasibility Trials of The National Diet-Heart (D-H) Study to develop technics for testing the hypothesis that diet ultimately is important in preventing coronary heart disease by lowering the cholesterol content of the blood. This paper presents highlights of the recent report1 of the study.

Conduct of the Experiment

Selection of participants. Diet-Heart Centers* were established in five cities and in a state hospital. A uniform program of nutritional and clinical procedures was coordinated by a . . .



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