Counseling May Lead to Some Improvement in Patient Health

Diet, physical activity counseling linked to benefits for BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral counseling to improve diet or increase physical activity, provided at medium to high intensity, can lead to small improvements in patients' blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol, according to research published in the Dec. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Jennifer S. Lin, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore., and colleagues performed a systematic review of 73 studies that looked at the effect of dietary or physical activity counseling to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that intensive counseling for sodium reduction was associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. High-intensity dietary counseling -- with or without counseling on physical activity -- was associated with lower body mass index (−0.3 to −0.7 kg/m²), lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (−1.5 and −0.7 mm Hg, respectively), and lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (−6.56 and −5.02 mg/dL, respectively). Medium- and high-intensity counseling was associated with moderate to large changes in participants' self-reported diet and physical activity.

"More trials are needed to evaluate low-intensity counseling interventions that could be more readily implemented in primary care, or medium-intensity interventions that could be referred to from primary care. The effective high-intensity interventions should be studied for reproducibility, to determine whether they would work in other populations and what intensity of intervention is effective in lower-risk populations," the authors write.

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