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NHLBI Obesity Research

Obesity research is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), consistent with its mission to provide global leadership for research, training, and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) acting both through and independently of other CVD risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Sleep habits and asthma may influence obesity-related behaviors, such as physical activity, and at the same time, obesity may be an important factor in the etiology of sleep disorders and asthma. Findings from obesity research can lead to improved health care and policies by translating the evidence-base to prevent or treat obesity and its heart, lung, and sleep consequences into practical strategies and tools for clinicians, patients, and the general public.

Among adults, 15% were obese in 1972 and 35% were obese in 2007. Among of children and adolescents, 5% were obese in 1972 and 17% were obese in 2007.

The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically. More than 33 percent of adults
and over 17 percent of children are now obese. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity research funded by NHLBI has contributed to the understanding of the causes, complications, and treatment of overweight and obesity. The studies focus on a wide-range of topics, including the effects of obesity on morbidity and mortality; effects of childhood obesity on future health; effects of weight loss on CVD risk factors; identification of factors associated with obesity; efficacy of interventions on the prevention of weight gain, weight loss and weight loss maintenance; and effectiveness of interventions in communities, schools, work sites, and clinical practice settings.

The NIH established its Obesity Research Task Force in 2003 to accelerate progress in obesity research across the NIH. The NHLBI director co-chairs the Task Force, along with the directors of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The members of the Task Force are representatives from across the NIH Institutes. Staff from the NHLBI are members of the Senior Leadership Group, which oversees the activities of the Task Force. The NHLBI also established a trans-NHLBI Obesity Working Group.

Simons-Morton DG, Donato K, Loria CM, etal.
Obesity research and programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:917-20.

Last Updated March 2011

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