NIH plans to push obesity research forward

Moving research aimed at fighting obesity from the laboratory into clinical settings is the main focus of the new Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research, a program of the National Institutes of Health. Officials said that the plan would help cut back on many of the diseases associated with excessive weight, including type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is one of the gravest public health problems facing the nation. Two-thirds of all adults are either overweight or obese. This dramatically increases their chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and some cancers. Solving the issue could greatly improve the health of millions of Americans.

While they recognize that eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise are the best ways to beat obesity, the NIH officials said that they are aware that this is often easier said than done. Simply instructing people to do these things is generally not enough. This is why encouraging more practical research is so important.

The current plan lays out several areas of focus. These include finding processes that regulate body weight, understanding factors that contribute to obesity, designing new approaches to helping people maintain healthy weight, evaluating new strategies for helping people lose weight and using technology to improve the delivery of care to obese patients.

"Obesity has many causes and contributing factors," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. "This plan is a bold blueprint that will encourage the research community to examine the epidemic of obesity from diverse perspectives. Through the scientific opportunities outlined in the strategic plan, researchers can work together toward the goals of preventing and treating obesity."

Obesity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. The research could help doctors prevent or treat many cases of the disease, which is becoming increasingly common in the U.S.
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