Survey: Most Americans Plan to Change Nutrition, Fitness Habits

Family Medicine for America's Health Campaign Drives Patient Outreach

February 12, 2015 09:20 am News Staff

More than 80 percent of Americans say they plan to change their diet or exercise regimen this year, but only about 40 percent will consult their physician while doing so.

That's according to results of a recent fitness and nutrition survey by Family Medicine for America's Health(fmahealth.org), which fielded the survey as part of its Health is Primary campaign(www.healthisprimary.org). (For more about Family Medicine for America's Health, see sidebar below.)

The online survey of more than 1,000 adults also found that patients trust physicians more than online resources for advice on healthy behaviors, yet they still tend to go to the Internet for most of their research on the subject, according to a news release(www.healthisprimary.org).

About Family Medicine for America's Health

Family Medicine for America's Health is a collaboration of the nation's leading family medicine organizations to drive continued improvement of the U.S. health care system and demonstrate the value of true primary care.

The collaborating organizations are:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians,
  • American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation,
  • American Board of Family Medicine,
  • American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians,
  • Association of Departments of Family Medicine,
  • Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors,
  • North American Primary Care Research Group and
  • Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Also of note, the study showed that four out of five respondents consider their lifestyle to be healthy despite the fact that half of them said they had exercised only twice -- if that -- in the previous two weeks.

"The patient-physician partnership is a powerful yet underutilized tool in adopting healthy behaviors," said Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., board chair of Family Medicine for America's Health, in the news release. "By empowering patients to directly and positively affect their health, primary care doctors can provide the right tools and ongoing, personalized support to adopt and sustain healthy habits. Expanding access to and use of primary care in this country can help put the health back in health care."

Because primary care physicians evaluate patients' overall health, aim to establish long-term relationships with them and are trained to provide advice on healthy behaviors, they are the ultimate resource to help patients develop personalized strategies to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits and achieve health and fitness goals, the release said.

"Our health care system is out of balance," said Stream. "Spending on treatment far exceeds spending on prevention. Evidence shows that about 40 percent of what makes us healthy is a result of our own behaviors. If we want to address growing rates of chronic disease in this country, we need to put more emphasis on primary care, where we can promote and support healthy behaviors."

Family Medicine for America's Health launched the three-year, national Health is Primary campaign to raise awareness of the role of primary care in the health care system and demonstrate its value in delivering on the triple aim of better health, better care and lower costs.

After kicking off its city tour on Feb. 26 in Raleigh, N.C., Health is Primary will make stops in other cities around the country to engage local stakeholders and showcase community-level interventions that are working to enhance and expand primary care and improve health. Those cities and dates are:

  • Seattle (March 19),
  • Chicago (May 19),
  • Denver (date TBD) and
  • Detroit (Oct. 21).

"Health promotion and prevention are an integral part of family medicine and primary care," Stream said. "We are working to build a health care system in this country where everybody has a trusted relationship with a primary care physician and a medical home where they can get sound advice and consistent support for healthy behaviors."


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