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Diabetes Dateline
Fall 2011

Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research Seeks to Curb Epidemic

Thumbnail of the “Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research” report cover.

In March 2011, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the comprehensive Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research. The plan was assembled by health care professionals, researchers, and the public to combat the obesity epidemic. More than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly 17 percent of U.S. children are obese. Obesity increases health risks such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, and cancer.

“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 Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “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.”

The plan recognizes that eating less and exercising more is easier said than done. Highlighting the crucial role of research in efforts to reduce obesity, the plan emphasizes using education and outreach to move proven research strategies from the laboratory into clinical trials and ultimately into practical solutions for community programs and medical practice. Recommendations include

  • discovering the key processes that regulate body weight and influence behavior
  • understanding the factors that contribute to obesity and its consequences
  • designing and testing new approaches for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • evaluating promising strategies to prevent and treat obesity in real-world settings and diverse populations
  • using technology to advance obesity research and improve health care delivery

The Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research was developed by the NIH Obesity Research Task Force, which is co-chaired by Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P., director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Though there is no funding directly tied to the plan, NIH funds research to better understand the causes and consequences of obesity and to develop and test new prevention and treatment strategies, an investment of $824 million in fiscal year 2010, plus awards totaling $147 million made in the same year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

To order or download the Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research or the 8-page nontechnical summary, visit

The NIH offers free tools, tips, and resources to help people achieve or maintain a healthy weight through the NIDDK Weight-control Information Network. For more information visit

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NIH Publication No. 12–4562
December 2011

Page last updated: December 19, 2011

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