More Than 9 in 10 Primary Care Physicians Say U.S. Health Care System Should Place Greater Emphasis on Nutrition to Manage Chronic Disease
Survey Conducted with American Dietetic Association Shows Lack of Reimbursement for Nutrition Services Is Key Barrier
"The good news is physicians know nutrition therapy can improve health outcomes," said registered dietitian
In the survey, nutrition services were defined as referral to a registered dietitian or recommendation of specific nutrition products.
"Nutrition is more than just eating a healthy diet; for patients with chronic disease nutrition acts as therapy to help them heal faster, respond better to medical care and control their disease," White said.
One of the biggest reasons cited for physicians' failure to address nutrition more frequently as part of chronic disease prevention and management is the lack of direct reimbursement for nutrition services. More than 80 percent of physicians surveyed said lack of reimbursement is either a major reason or the single biggest reason that providing nutrition services is not routine, including one-third who cited it as the biggest factor.
"Registered dietitians and doctors have long known the intrinsic value of nutrition services for their patients," said registered dietitian
The national online survey of 400 primary care physicians was conducted by Hart Research Associates in association with the American Dietetic Association and the
The findings are especially significant as Congress addresses health care reform and increases the focus on preventive care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic disease accounts for 75 percent of the
Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic disease. Primary care physicians are nearly unanimous in their belief that nutrition is a key element in chronic disease: An overwhelming 94 percent of the doctors surveyed believe that nutrition plays a major role in prevention, and 95 percent say nutrition plays a major role in chronic disease management and treatment. On average, they estimate that two in three of their adult patients who have chronic disease would benefit from nutrition services. If the costs were reimbursed by a third-party payer, almost all of the physicians (94 percent) say they would refer more of their patients with chronic ailments for nutrition services than they do now.
"As Congress takes up health care reform, it is important that the benefits of nutrition therapy be fully recognized. Investments in nutrition research, nutrition programs and nutrition therapy would provide dividends to the taxpayer. Nutrition services should be included in the Medicare program, and in any basic benefit package developed as a result of health care reform," said Sen. McGovern.
The abstract of a new study conducted by researchers at the
Both studies were conducted with support from Abbott Nutrition, a division of Abbott, the global health care company. The primary care survey and the medical abstract are available at the American Dietetic Association's Web site, www.eatright.org/2009policybriefing.
About the American Dietetic Association
The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit ADA at www.eatright.org.
SOURCE American Dietetic Association