Background: A Mediterranean diet has been shown to protect against coronary heart disease (CHD). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet can be assessed using a Mediterranean diet score. The primary aim of this pilot study was to examine whether CHD patients in a Northern European population would adopt and maintain a Mediterranean diet, with a secondary aim of comparing the effectiveness of different methodologies aimed at improving compliance.
Methods: Sixty-one patients with a diagnosis of CHD were randomised to one of three groups: either to receive conventional dietetic advice for CHD or advice to implement a Mediterranean-style diet using either behavioural counselling or nutritional counselling. Patients received a follow-up assessment at 6 months (adoption) and a subset of patients was followed up at 12 months (maintenance). The primary outcome measure was the between-group difference in the mean change in Mediterranean diet score (MDS).
Results: The change in MDS was not significantly different between groups. However, all three groups reported a significant within-group increase in MDS (P < 0.01) at 6 and 12 months follow-up.
Conclusions: All three groups made dietary changes towards a Mediterranean diet, but behavioural counselling did not have significant additional benefit over nutritional counselling in initiating and maintaining dietary change, and neither method offering specific Mediterranean diet advice had any significant benefit in terms of improvement in MDS over conventional dietetic practice.