Dietary advice and intervention clearly have a place in rheumatology and allow patients to have some control over their own disease. Although there is no evidence for efficacy of 'fad' diets, 30-40% of rheumatoid patients can benefit from excluding foods individually identified during the reintroduction phase of an elimination diet. A proportion of patients who follow a vegetarian or Mediterranean-type diet will experience benefit.

Patients who are either overweight or obese should participate in weight-loss programmes. Those with osteoarthritis need to concentrate on reducing fat mass while maintaining muscle mass.

Arthritic patients, other than those with gout, should increase their intake of oily fish and additionally supplement with fish oil for up to 3 months to see whether they experience benefit.

All arthritic patients, particularly those with inflammatory disease, should be advised to ensure a good dietary intake of antioxidants, copper and zinc.

Supplementation with selenium and vitamin D may be advisable.