Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Cardiovascular Risk Factors: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement

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Abstract

Importance

Adults who adhere to national guidelines for a healthful diet and physical activity have lower rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality than those who do not. All persons, regardless of their risk status for cardiovascular disease (CVD), can gain health benefits from healthy eating behaviors and appropriate physical activity.

Objective

To update the 2012 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention among adults without obesity who do not have cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, dyslipidemia, abnormal blood glucose levels, or diabetes).

Evidence Review

The USPSTF reviewed the evidence on whether primary care–relevant counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet, physical activity, or both improve health outcomes, intermediate outcomes associated with CVD, or dietary or physical activity behaviors in adults; interventions to reduce sedentary behaviors; and the harms of behavioral counseling interventions.

Findings

Counseling interventions result in improvements in healthful behaviors and small but potentially important improvements in intermediate outcomes, including reductions in blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and improvements in measures of adiposity. The overall magnitude of benefit related to these interventions is positive but small. The potential harms are at most small, leading the USPSTF to conclude that these interventions have a small net benefit for adults without obesity who do not have CVD risk factors.

Conclusions and Recommendation

The USPSTF recommends that primary care professionals individualize the decision to offer or refer adults without obesity who do not have hypertension, dyslipidemia, abnormal blood glucose levels, or diabetes to behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity. Existing evidence indicates a positive but small benefit of behavioral counseling for the prevention of CVD in this population. Persons who are interested and ready to make behavioral changes may be most likely to benefit from behavioral counseling. (C recommendation)

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