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09-12-2010 | Cardiology | Article

Dietary, physical counseling can improve risk factors for CVD


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MedWire News: Results of a systematic review suggest that counseling to promote physical activity and a healthy diet can change health behaviors and improve adiposity, blood pressure, and lipid levels.

The researchers say that although the physiological improvements from dietary or physical activity counseling were small, they are statistically significant.

And changes in self-reported dietary and physical activity were moderate to large, with participants increasing their intake of fruit and vegetables and decreasing their intake of dietary fats.

Jennifer Lin (Center for Health Research, Oregon, USA) and colleagues systematically reviewed 73 studies published between 2001 and January 2010 with a minimum follow-up of 6 months.

They assessed the effect of dietary or physical activity counseling on health outcomes including cardiovascular (CV) related morbidity or mortality, intermediate cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related outcomes (lipid levels, blood pressure, glucose tolerance , and body mass index [BMI]), behavioral outcomes (physical activity and dietary intake), and any adverse effects.

The team found that there were limited data on the effects of counseling on CVD morbidity or mortality, but that intensive sodium restriction counseling resulted in a decrease in the incidence of CVD.

Medium- to high-intensity dietary interventions, with or without physical activity counseling, reduced BMI by between 0.3 and 0.7 kg/m2, systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 1.5 mmHg and 0.7 mmHg, respectively, total cholesterol by 0.17 mmol/l (6.6 mg/dl), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 0.13 mmol/l (5.0 mg/dl).

Writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Lin and team say that, in general, counseling resulted in small increases in participants' physical activity levels, at an average of 38.3 minutes per week.

They add that reductions in self-reported fat intake from high-intensity counseling ranged from a 5.9-11.0% decrease in energy from total fat and a 2.9-3.7% decrease in energy from saturated fat, while fruit and vegetable consumption was increased by up to two servings a day.

Adverse effects were rarely noted in the trials.

The researchers conclude that dietary or physical activity counseling results in changes in health behaviors, and improves adiposity, blood pressure, and lipid levels.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Nikki Withers

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