Changing dietary intake is a major challenge to individuals, households and the general public. Promoting the consumption of diets that are low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and starchy carbohydrate, and managing overweight and central obesity, are important dietary strategies for the prevention of metabolic syndrome. Educational, behavioural and motivational tactics are required to help people achieve overall dietary change. These strategies might usefully be based on intervention models which incorporate behavioural theories and goals through personal, multiple contact with individuals or in small groups, using active involvement and specific behaviour-change strategies. Two particular aspects, namely the impact of computer-generated, personalized nutrition education and social support networks (e.g. family, health centre and community) provide useful adjuncts to traditional dietary counselling and might usefully be incorporated into diet- and lifestyle-change programmes for community-based and individualized approaches for disease prevention. The use of moderate energy-deficit diets, modest targets for weight loss (and maintenance) which can be sustained over the long term, and increased physical activity probably offers the most feasible approach for intervention aimed at reducing overall body weight.