Prevention at its worst

In case you weren’t already aware…government agencies are constantly trying to force physicians into the “mold” they’ve created. Perhaps it’s so one day they can replace us with iPads or whatever the latest technology is. What better way to save money? And help make sure the bigwigs of the pharmaceutical companies, food companies, and insurance companies can all fly around in private jets, making nine-figure annual salaries?

Anyway, that’s not your battle to fight. But I did want to tell you about the latest “guidelines” being issued to physicians from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). (As if they’ve ever really prevented anything.)

They now believe that we should “selectively” counsel patients about healthy lifestyle choices. Rather than incorporating that type of counseling into the care for all adults in the general population.

Really? Two-thirds of our population is currently obese. And there are 40 million diabetics in this country. All of whom are at risk for heart disease. And stroke. And cancer. Yet, we should “selectively” choose which ones to counsel?

What about encouraging the ones who are doing okay? What about letting even thin people know they shouldn’t be eating donuts?

There is not a single person in this country that doesn’t need healthy lifestyle counseling.

In fact, according to one of the Task Force members, “Everybody, regardless of their [cardiovascular disease (CVD)] risk, can benefit from good nutrition and regular physical activity.” Yet, she goes on to say, when it comes to nutritional and lifestyle counseling for patients who don’t have CVD risk factors: “The evidence suggests that while we don’t recommend against it, we don’t need to recommend it routinely.”

First of all, I’d like her to find me five people who don’t have any cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Second of all–why DON’T they “recommend it routinely”? Is it because they know most physicians aren’t following sound nutritional advice themselves? Or is it so we will have more time to spend discussing the really “important” stuff–like how many more drugs to prescribe?

Whatever the reason, this most certainly is not preventive medicine.

This report had me in a rage for days. But overall, the USPSTF concluded “with moderate certainty that in the primary care setting, medium- or high-intensity behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity have a small net benefit in the target population.”

What that tells me is we need more counseling–not LESS. Not to mention access to resources that actually help people achieve those behavioral changes they’re being counseled about.

The reason I’m up here on my soapbox, telling you about this is that these guidelines don’t just affect your doctor. They affect you–and the quality of care you’re getting.

So don’t be surprised if your doctor doesn’t mention diet, exercise, or any other lifestyle topics during your next appointment. But don’t let that stop you from bringing it up. And asking for guidance and support. If he’s reluctant to give it, it’s time to find a doctor who will. You–and your health–deserve better.