Experts call for evaluation of diet at routine well visits


Routine healthcare visits should include some form of dietary assessment and counseling, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The statement, written by a group of nutrition and cardiovascular disease experts, recommends the adoption of a rapid diet screening tool that can be integrated into electronic health record platforms across all health care settings.

Poor diet quality has surpassed all other risk factors for death, accounting for 11 million deaths and about half of cardiovascular disease deaths globally, according to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, a comprehensive report on the health impact of diet in 195 countries around the world.

The statement authors reviewed 15 existing screening tools, assessing each to provide insight on the feasibility of incorporating an evidence-based dietary screening tool into routine practice. The authors list numerous reasons why members of a health care team may not address diet quality during a routine office visit, including lack of training and knowledge; lack of time and reimbursement; competing demands during the often short office visit; and that nutrition services aren't integrated into many healthcare settings.

While the statement does not endorse a specific screening tool, it encourages critical conversations among clinicians, individuals with diet and lifestyle expertise and specialists in information technology to adopt rapid diet screening tools for adults in primary care and relevant specialty care and prevention settings.

Editor's note: Photo courtesy of Freepik