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Prev Med. 1988 Mar;17(2):183-93.

Dietary changes in the North Karelia Project (1972-1982).

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  • 1National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology, Helsinki, Finland.


The North Karelia Project is a community-based program to reduce the high cardiovascular disease rates in the province of North Karelia in eastern Finland. Dietary changes aimed at reducing serum cholesterol levels were among the main objectives. The evaluation of the program was based on examinations of independent cross-sectional population samples in 1972, 1977, and 1982 in North Karelia and in a matched reference area. A questionnaire was used to measure changes in dietary habits during the program. A major shift from whole to low-fat milk took place in both areas as well as a reduction in the amount of butter used on bread. The net reduction in North Karelia (difference in change compared with the reference area) in the intake of saturated fatty acids from milk and fat spreads used on bread was 20% in men and 14% in women. This reduction was similar in different age, education, and occupational groups suggesting that the dietary intervention had reached the whole community. The validity of the reported dietary changes was confirmed by parallel changes in serum cholesterol levels.

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