Statement on NIH research on obesity and type 2 diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes have become major public health problems in this country. Less than half of American adults are at a healthy weight. Approximately one-third of American adults are obese and an additional one-third are overweight and at risk for becoming obese. Alarmingly, approximately 16 percent of children and teens ages six to 19 are also overweight. Overweight and obesity increase the risk of developing numerous serious health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased with the national increase in overweight and obesity. Approximately 20.8 million people -- 7 percent of the United States population -- have diabetes. In this month's "Nature Medicine" special feature on the metabolic syndrome, we discuss the NIH research portfolio on obesity and type 2 diabetes.*

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is committed to the continued support of innovative and collaborative research on obesity and its concomitant health problems. Recognizing the urgent need for increased action to counter the problem of obesity in this country, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the NIH, established the NIH Obesity Research Task Force in April 2003. In 2004, the Task Force, co-led by NIDDK and NHLBI, developed and published the "Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research", with critical input from external scientists and the public. The Strategic Plan is a guide for coordinating obesity research across the NIH and for enhancing research in areas of greatest scientific opportunity.**

The discovery of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin in 1994 led to an explosion of research discoveries elucidating the metabolic and neurobiological mechanisms that regulate appetite, energy expenditure, and energy storage. Today, the NIH continues to support an expansive basic research portfolio on obesity and type 2 diabetes. Among this research are animal and human genetic and developmental studies, and resear

Contact: Marcia Vital
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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