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Nutrition and physical activity intervention for families with familial hypercholesterolaemia: protocol for a pilot randomised controlled feasibility study

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posted on 03.04.2020, 10:42 by Fiona Kinnear, Julian Hamilton-Shield, David StenselDavid Stensel, Graham Bayly, Aidan Searle, Alice ThackrayAlice Thackray, Fiona Lithander


Untreated heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) causes high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Despite pharmacological treatment, many treated individuals remain at higher CVD risk than non-affected individuals. This may be due to LDL-C targets not being met and presence of other CVD risk factors. Adhering to dietary and physical activity (PA) recommendations developed for individuals with FH may further reduce CVD risk. However, there is insufficient research to support the efficacy of adhering to these guidelines on LDL-C and other CVD risk factors. The need for studies to investigate the effectiveness of nutrition and PA interventions in the FH population has been widely recognised and recommended. This paper describes the protocol of a pilot, randomised controlled trial designed to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a specifically developed nutrition and PA intervention aimed at improving the dietary intakes and PA levels of families with FH.


A two-arm randomised waitlist-controlled pilot trial will be conducted across three National Health Service (NHS) sites in England, UK. Twenty-four young people with FH, aged 10–18 years, and their affected parent, will be recruited and randomly assigned to the intervention or waitlist and usual care control. The primary aim is to provide evidence for the feasibility and acceptability of delivering the intervention, explored quantitatively (rates of recruitment, retention and outcome measure completeness) and qualitatively (qualitative interviews). The secondary aim is to provide evidence for the potential efficacy of the intervention on dietary intake, PA, sedentary time, body composition, CVD risk factors and quality of life determined at baseline and endpoint assessments. The intervention will involve an hour-long consultation with a dietitian at baseline and four follow-up contacts across the 12-week intervention. It has been specifically developed for use with individuals with FH and incorporates behavioural change techniques to target identified enablers and barriers to adherence in this population.


This trial will estimate the feasibility and acceptability of the nutrition and PA intervention delivered to young people and parents with FH. If appropriate, this study can be used to inform the design of an adequately powered definitive trial.


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (Nutrition Theme) at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Bristol



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Pilot and Feasibility Studies






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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by BMJ under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Dr Alice Thackray . Deposit date: 2 April 2020

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