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The PC-SHOP trial is a new study led by the University of Oxford in collaboration with Tesco. It is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Oxford.

This small study aims to develop and test the feasibility of a new method of helping people to lower their intake of saturated fats (mostly fats from animal sources such as butter or meat) and reduce the amount of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol in the blood. High levels of LDL-cholesterol can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. This is one of the leading cause of death in the UK and is strongly influenced by diet.

Reducing the intake of saturated fats by swapping foods for others that are lower in saturated fat can lead to big reductions in the amount of LDL-cholesterol.

How will people be selected to take part?

There will be no opportunity for people to actively enrol in this study.

Working with GP surgeries in Oxfordshire, eligible participants will be invited to take part in the study by Oxford University researchers and their GP if they have previous blood test results on their medical record that show a higher than normal cholesterol level and their GPs consider they would likely benefit from improving their diet.

Of those identified, 112 people who regularly shop at Tesco with a clubcard who are willing to consent to the researchers accessing their clubcard data will be invited to take part in the study.

What will the study involve?

Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group of participants will have a single one-to-one appointment with a practice nurse or health professional at their GP practice where they will receive some general advice on the importance of dietary change and the benefits of reducing their intake of saturated fat.

A second group of participants will receive the same appointment with the nurse and will also receive a personalised report each month with information of the saturated fat content of their food purchases from Tesco, as well as specific alternative foods to swap in order to decrease the total saturated fat content of their baskets.  

The control group will be provided with their blood test results which is considered the usual care.

All participants will be followed-up after three months to evaluate the change in their saturated fat intake, shopping habits and their LDL-cholesterol levels.

How will Tesco clubcard data be used?

All participants will provide informed consent to the Oxford University study team to take part in the study. They will explicitly consent for Tesco to provide researchers with information on their food purchases from their clubcard. in order to provide them with personalised feedback on their food shopping. Tesco will not receive any additional information about participants as a result of the study.

Dr Carmen Piernas Sanchez, Research Fellow in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said:

“We know from previous research that simple food swaps can help people to reduce their saturated fat content. However, these previous studies have only achieved success either by giving specific foods to people or by providing intensive support and advice from nutrition specialists.

"The key difference with our study is that we will link general advice from the health professional with personalised feedback based on their food shopping. We aim to evaluate this innovative approach on a small scale, and if successful, we will plan a much larger study in the future.”

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.