The new results, published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, are based on data from 377 patients with high cholesterol who were counseled by 52 registered dietitians at 24 sites in 11 states. In the group of 175 patients who started the study with triglycerides less than 400 milligrams per deciliter of blood, and who had their cholesterol measured before they changed or added medication, 44.6 percent either reduced their levels of "bad" cholesterol by at least 15 percent, or reached their cholesterol goal. The results reflect progress in approximately eight months, after three or more appointments with a dietitian. But the results add further evidence that medical nutrition therapy, as it is called, can make a big difference in a patient's life.
Some commercial health insurance plans are beginning to cover appointments with dietitians, but many still do not. Only dietitian visits for diabetes or kidney disease are covered by Medicare. But even if individuals need to pay for the appointments out of their own pocket, they may find that a dietitian's advice will pay off in the long run.