05 Aug USPSTF: Evaluates Benefits of Diet and Exercise Counseling for Adults Without Known Heart Disease Risk Factors
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lori Pbert, Ph.D
Professor, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
Associate chief of the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
Founder and director of the Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
Dr. Pbert joined the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in January 2019
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Heart attacks and strokes are the number one killer of adults in the United States. Based on the evidence we reviewed, the Task Force found that some people would benefit from counseling interventions to support their cardiovascular health, however the overall benefits are small. For that reason, we continue to recommend that healthcare professionals decide together with their patients who do not have cardiovascular disease risk factors whether counseling interventions on healthy diet and physical activity might help them prevent heart attacks and strokes. This is a C grade recommendation.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Everyone can improve their overall health by eating a healthy diet and being physically active. However, this recommendation is only for people who do not have pre-existing risk factors like high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels. For this group, the decision to start healthy lifestyle counseling should be guided by both the clinician’s professional judgment and the patient’s preferences. Overall, people who are interested in making changes to their diet and physical activity are most likely to benefit from counseling.
It’s also important to note that the Task Force has a separate recommendation for people with risk factors, which says that they should receive behavioral counseling that promotes a healthy diet and physical activity in order to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We’re calling for more research on the barriers that keep people of all ages and abilities from having a healthy diet and being physically active. This research should include the people who are most affected by heart attacks and strokes to help reduce disparities in these groups. For example, studies should examine how healthcare professionals and patients can discuss ways to navigate environmental, financial, societal, and other types of barriers to living a healthy lifestyle.
The Task Force is also calling for more research on how clinicians can increase the chances that a patient who is referred to behavioral counseling will end up with an improved quality of life. These referral studies should be consistently measured and reported and should standardize the use of dietary intake surveys and physical activity tools.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?
Response: We recognize that social determinants of health and systemic racism contribute to differences in healthy diet and physical activity by influencing availability and accessibility of healthy food and physical activity opportunities. It’s important that healthcare professionals talk with their patients about how best to support them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’re committed to improving health equity and reducing health disparities across the country.
Patnode CD, Redmond N, Iacocca MO, Henninger M. Behavioral Counseling Interventions to Promote a Healthy Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Known Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2022;328(4):375–388. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.7408
US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling Interventions to Promote a Healthy Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2022;328(4):367–374. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.10951
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