The connection of gout and hyperuricaemia with gluttony, overindulgence in food and alcohol and obesity dates from ancient times. Studies from different parts of the world suggest that the incidence and severity of hyperuricaemia and gout may be increasing. Uric acid (urate) is the end product of purine degradation. Although most uric acid is derived from the metabolism of endogenous purine, eating foods rich in purines contributes to the total pool of uric acid. Sustained hyperuricaemia is a risk factor for acute gouty arthritis, chronic tophaceous gout, renal stones and possibly cardiovascular events and mortality. Before starting lifelong urate-lowering drug therapy, it is important to identify and treat underlying disorders that may be contributing to hyperuricaemia. It is relevant to recognize the strong association of the insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) (abdominal obesity, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, raised serum insulin levels and glucose intolerance) with hyperuricaemia. Consumption of meat, seafood and alcoholic beverages in moderation and attention to food portion size is important. Moderation in the consumption of not only beer but also other forms of alcohol is essential. In the obese, controlled weight management has the potential to lower serum urate in a quantitatively similar way to relatively unpalatable "low purine" diets. Non-fat milk and low-fat yogurt have a variety of health benefits and dairy products may have clinically meaningful antihyperuricaemic effects. In addition, fruits, such as cherries and high intakes of vegetable protein diet may reduce serum urate levels.