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Doctors need to counsel patients on diet

Posted - Oct. 13, 2004 at 3:40 p.m.



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STANFORD, Calif., Oct 13, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Stanford University study says doctors aren't adequately advising those at risk of developing heart disease about the benefits of diet and exercise.

The study tracked the results of doctors visits between 1992 and 2000. It found diet counseling was provided in less than 45 percent of visits and exercise counseling in less than 30 percent of visits by patients who had at least one condition that increased the likelihood of heart disease.

"This is clearly a population that would benefit from exercise and diet counseling, and yet these services aren't being provided at an optimal level," said Randall Stafford, senior author of the study published in the October issue of Preventive Medicine.

Despite a wealth of evidence that better diet and exercise habits can help reduce the risk of heart disease, Stafford said he believes physicians feel they lack the tools and training to provide effective lifestyle counseling to their patients.

He said the current health-care environment aggravates the problem by giving doctors paltry reimbursement for counseling while making it financially attractive to prescribe medications or procedures.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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