NIH Launches New Obesity Research Strategy, Releases Report
NIH on Tuesday announced that it is launching a research strategy to combat obesity, Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The agency's plan will address obesity on several fronts, including encouraging community planning that promotes exercise; developing more effective drugs and treatments; identifying the ways that obesity raises the risk of diabetes, cardiac disease and some cancers; and making the research findings clear and usable for the public, according to Reuters/Inquirer. NIH's plan states, "On the surface, it may seem that the solution to the obesity epidemic is obvious: 'Get people to eat less and exercise more.' The reality is that this change is very difficult to accomplish, and research is critical to address the issue successfully."
About 65% of U.S. residents are overweight and 31% are obese. In addition, the number of overweight children has nearly tripled since 1970, with about 16% of children ages six to 19 now overweight, according to the report. NIH says that health care and other costs related to obesity total $117 billion annually in the United States. The agency spent $378.6 million on obesity research in fiscal year 2003, and it is slated to spend about $400.1 million in FY 2004 (Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/25). The obesity report is available online.