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Task Force Issues Statement on Behavioral Counseling to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease in At-Risk Adults

Finds evidence of benefit in overweight or obese adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has posted a draft recommendation and draft evidence review recommending that overweight and obese adults who have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease be offered or referred to behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthy diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention.

The task force is seeking comments from the public on this draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review until June 9.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Nearly half of all adults have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, and being a current smoker. In 2012, approximately 35% of adults were obese, which increases their risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

“The good news for adults who are overweight or obese and at increased risk for cardiovascular disease is that intensive behavioral counseling interventions, with the goal of improving diet and increasing physical activity, can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said task force member Sue Curry, PhD. “While the interventions themselves vary, the effective counseling services include education, goal setting, and ongoing monitoring and feedback and are delivered by a trained professional. While there is no magic number of sessions, it is clear that effective counseling is delivered over multiple sessions spread over several months to a year.”

The draft recommendation applies specifically to adults who are obese or overweight and who already have a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. The task force has a separate recommendation for people who are at average risk for cardiovascular disease. This new draft recommendation complements, but does not replace, that recommendation.

“All individuals, regardless of their risk of heart disease, can realize the health benefits of improved nutrition, healthy eating behaviors, and increased physical activity,” said task force member Mark Ebell, MD, MS.

Source: USPSTF; May 13, 2014.

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