News Features

Kansas Health Care Professionals: Counseling For Lifestyle Behaviors

K-State Engagement E-News, November/December 2009 (PDF)

by Rachel Richardson

Elizabeth Fallon, PhD, professor in kinesiology at Kansas State University started her lecture on "Counseling for Lifestyle Behaviors" by providing basic definitions for Kinesiology and Public Health. Public Health was defined as the science and art of promoting health, preventing disease and prolonging life through organized efforts of society, while Kinesiology was defined as the study and application of physical activity for optimum health. Once everyone in the audience was given a basic foundation in health terms, Fallon then began to go into detail about lifestyle behaviors, the role of health care professionals in chronic disease prevention and share some data from Kansas Health Care Professionals surveys.

The data gathered for the Kansas Health Care Professionals surveys mirrored a majority of the audience view that health care professionals are not doing enough, if any, counseling for physical activity, diet and weight management during regular doctor's visits. An unfortunate piece of information when paired with the data that states that their is a modest but statistically significant positive effect on physical activity, body weight, dietary fat, S/D BP and LDL cholesterol when health care professional do provide counseling (Wilcox et al., 2001). "People are more open to health advice when at the doctor's office" says Fallon "they are also more likely to actually take that advice if it's given by a doctor."

When less than 50% of the US is meeting their physical activity requirement (BRFSS, 2008) and obesity trends only increasing as the years go on it is time that people get serious about their health and the health of their neighbors. There is hope, however, the survey stated that when asked about lifestyle behaviors doctors are more likely to give advice on such matters. "People need to start changing their lifestyle behaviors and demanding counseling from their health care professionals."