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Experts: Tackle Bad Habits All at Once

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People with multiple bad lifestyle habits are more likely to successfully change if they address them all at once rather than one at a time, according to researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine.

Reuters reported June 22 that researchers led by David J. Hyman studied a group of 289 African-Americans ages 45 to 64 who smoked and had high blood pressure. They found that those who quit smoking, cut back on the sodium in their diet and began exercising more had more success in changing their behaviors than a group that addressed a different behavior every six months or received a one-time referral to counseling.

For example, 20 percent of those in the simultaneous group quit smoking, compared to 17 percent in the sequential group and 10 percent of the referral (control) group. Simultaneous group members also were more likely to increase exercise, but not to cut sodium intake.

Researchers noted, however, that “treatment success with the simultaneous approach is likely to be limited to a single behavior.”

The study appears in the June 11, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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