Behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention in adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement

Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):367-71. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00486.


Description: Update of the 2003 and 2002 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation statements on behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity in adults without preexisting cardiovascular disease (CVD) or its risk factors.

Methods: The USPSTF reviewed new evidence on whether counseling interventions relevant to primary care for physical activity or a healthful diet modify self-reported behaviors; intermediate physiologic outcomes (for example, reduced lipid levels, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index and increased glucose tolerance); and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in adults without known CVD, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes.

Population: General adult population without a known diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or CVD.

Recommendation: Although the correlation among healthful diet, physical activity, and the incidence of CVD is strong, existing evidence indicates that the health benefit of initiating behavioral counseling in the primary care setting to promote a healthful diet and physical activity is small. Clinicians may choose to selectively counsel patients rather than incorporate counseling into the care of all adults in the general population. Issues to consider include other risk factors for CVD, a patient's readiness for change, social support and community resources that support behavioral change, and other health care and preventive service priorities. Harms may include the lost opportunity to provide other services that have a greater health effect. This is a grade C recommendation.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Counseling*
  • Diet*
  • Exercise*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors