Reports From the Field: Dietary counseling advised for at-risk adults

Dietary counseling can be beneficial for adults with high cholesterol and other risk factors for diet-related chronic disease such as high blood pressure and obesity, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended.

The Task Force found that effective counseling for promoting healthy diets among patients at risk for cardiovascular disease requires multiple group sessions or individual behavioral counseling by specially trained physicians, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, or health educators.

The Task Force is an independent panel of experts sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

In 2002, Medicare began covering nutrition therapy for beneficiaries for diabetes and kidney disease. Studies suggest that people who eat diets low in fat, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol and high in fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain products have lower rates of death from coronary artery disease, heart disease, and possibly several forms of cancer.

The task force suggested a team-based approach to nutritional counseling. Strategies include multigroup or individual treatments and brief behavioral counseling supplemented by self-help materials, telephone counseling, and individually tailored health mailings and messages.

Recommendations are available at www.ahrq.gov/clinic/3rduspstf/diet.