Lifestyle Counseling Helps Diabetes Patients Control Blood Sugar

More than 30,000 got advice on diet, exercise in primary care settings

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Incorporating lifestyle counseling into routine care for diabetes patients significantly reduces the time it takes them to reach their treatment goals, according to a new study.

It included more than 30,000 diabetes patients with elevated blood glucose, blood pressure or cholesterol who received diet, exercise and weight loss counseling in a primary care setting for at least two years, with an average follow-up of nearly seven years.

Using counseling in primary care reduced the time it took for the patients to lower their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The more frequently patients received counseling, the quicker they reached their treatment goals. Those who received face-to-face counseling at least once a month took an average of 3.9 weeks to reach their goals, compared to 13.5 months for those who received counseling once every one to six months.

The findings appear in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

"This study shows that persistent lifestyle counseling can and should be a critical piece of any routine diabetes treatment plan," study senior author Dr. Alexander Turchin said in a journal news release. "Clearly, it gets people to goal faster than when they are not given continued encouragement and information on how to increase physical activity levels, eat properly and reduce lipids. Primary care providers should take these findings to heart."

Counseling can be time-intensive and may not be feasible for doctors. Instead, nurse practitioners, physician assistants or dietitians may be more cost-effective ways of providing this support, the researchers suggested.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about living with diabetes.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Diabetes Care, news release, Jan. 24, 2012

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