NIH released its second Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research recently. Developed by the NIH obesity research task force with input from external researchers, health care providers and the public, the plan highlights the crucial role of research in reducing obesity, emphasizes moving science from laboratory to clinical trials to practical solutions and is designed to help target efforts and resources.
“Obesity has many causes and contributing factors. This plan is a bold blueprint that will encourage the research community to examine the epidemic of obesity from diverse perspectives,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. “Through the scientific opportunities outlined in the strategic plan, researchers can work together toward the goals of preventing and treating obesity, to help people lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.”
More than one-third of adults and nearly 17 percent of children in the United States are now obese, which increases the chance of developing health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease and some cancers. In 2008, obesity-related medical costs were an estimated $147 billion.
The 2011 plan builds on NIH’s first obesity strategic plan, released in 2004. Research recommendations in the new plan fall into the following areas:
- Discover key processes that regulate body weight and influence behavior
- Understand factors that contribute to obesity and its consequences
- Design and test new approaches for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Evaluate promising strategies to prevent and treat obesity in real-world settings and diverse populations
- Use technology to advance obesity research and improve health care delivery.
The plan also highlights education and outreach to broaden the impact of research and improve public health. To learn more about it, visit www.obesityresearch. nih.gov.